The Three Stages of Pipeline Easement Condemnation

Stage 1

The first stage in the condemnation process has no judicial involvement.  Pipeline companies are required by law to make an offer to purchase the property from the landowner, unless it is evident from the start that no agreement will be met from such offer. This first stage is the only time a property owner can negotiate changes to the proposed easement agreement. Two important things need to be addressed in this first stage: changes to the proposed easement and the amount of damages. This first stage takes place before any legal fees potentially come into the equation.  John T Montgomery Attorney At Law helps clients during this first stage in negotiating a fair and just easement agreement, if one cannot be reached we help our clients proceed with stage 2 and the possibility of stage 3.

Stage 2

Stage 2 starts when the company petitions the court after the final offer is rejected. A copy of the petition must be sent by the landowner by certified mail, with a return receipt requested,  it must contain six essential elements: (1) a description of the land, (2) a statement of the public use for which the land is being acquired, (3) the name(s) of the owner(s) if known, (4) a statement that the parties have been unable to agree on damages, (5) a statement that the company provided the landowner with a copy of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights Statement and (6) that the company made an offer to purchase the property as outlined in Section 21.0113 of the TPC. All of these elements must be present of the proceedings can be dismissed. After the letter has been sent a special commission is appointed by a judge. During stage 2 the only issues the special commissioners can legally determine, are market value, special damages and special benefits. John T Montgomery Attorney At Law represents clients during this hearing in order to protect their rights against the pipeline companies pursuing condemnation against them.

Stage 3

Stage 3 starts if an appeal is requested from the special commissioner’s decision. If an appeal is requested, that party must file formal written objections with the appropriate judge before the first Monday following the twentieth (20th) day after the filing of the special commissioner’s decision. At this point the decisions will move to a county or district court of law. At this stage an attorney will be required to represent the property owner in court. It is also the first time the question of taking the property can be legally raised and determined. If the award from either the special commissioners or trial court is more than the company's final offer, the company must pay all court costs. If a property owner intends to appeal their case, it is best practice to refuse acceptance of any part of the award from the special commission. John T. Montgomery: Attorney At Law protects the property owners rights and liberties in court from the practice of condemnation by pipeline companies.