Indiana Eminent Domain Laws
Indiana eminent domain laws can be found in Article 24, title 32 of Indiana statutes. Pursuant to Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-3, the condemning authority, before proceeding to condemn, may enter upon the land and survey the property sought to be condemned. The authority must make an effort to purchase the right-of-way, easement, or other interest. If the condemning authority does not agree with the owner of the property concerning the damages sustained by the owner, the authority may file a complaint with the clerk of the circuit court of the county where the property is located[i].
The condemnor, as a condition precedent to filing a complaint in condemnation, at least 30 days before filing a complaint must make an offer to purchase the property[ii]. The court appoints one disinterested freeholder of the county and two disinterested appraisers to assess the damages[iii]. Pursuant to Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-11, any party aggrieved by the assessment of benefits or damages may file written exceptions to the assessment in the office of the circuit court clerk. The court may make orders and render findings and judgments that the court considers just. Either party may appeal a judgment as to benefits or damages as in civil actions. The defendants may file a written request for payment of each defendant’s proportionate share of the damages held by the circuit court clerk. Upon filing the written request the circuit court clerk shall immediately issue a notice to the plaintiff and all defendants of record in the cause who have not joined in the request for payment. After a hearing, the court shall determine and order the payment by the circuit court clerk of the proportionate shares of the damages due to the defendants requesting payment. Any of the defendants may appeal an order within the same time and in the same manner as provided for allowable appeals from interlocutory orders in civil actions. Withdrawal of damages from the circuit court is not considered a waiver of any exceptions to the assessment of damages by the appraisers.
Pursuant to Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-12, before a trial involving the issue of damages the plaintiff shall and a defendant may file and serve on the other party an offer of settlement. An offer of settlement is considered rejected unless an acceptance in writing is filed and served on the party making the offer before the trial on the issue of the amount of damages begins. If the condemnor fails to pay the damages or attorney’s fees within one year of the entry of the judgment or if an appeal is not taken from the judgment, the authority forfeits all rights in the property as fully and completely as if the procedure to take the property had not begun. An action to declare a forfeiture may be brought by any person having an interest in the property sought to be acquired, or the question of the forfeiture may be raised and determined by direct allegation in any subsequent proceedings, by any other person to acquire the property for a public use[iv].
[i] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-4.
[ii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-5.
[iii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-7.
[iv] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 32-24-1-15