Eminent Domain: Be Careful What You Ask For

By:  Richard Herold and Patrick Paul

The condemnation[1] of property for public works may not always be as clean and easy as the government would like.  Although local governments are often critical players in the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, contaminated property can: (1) trigger disclosure requirements; (2) lead to environmental liability, for example, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA” or “Superfund”) (42 U.S.C. §9601, et seq.) or an analogous state statute;[2] and/or (3) impact the ultimate valuation of the property.

Local governments can be liable under CERCLA as any one of the following:

  • A current owner or operator of the contaminated property
  • An owner or operator of the property at the time of contamination
  • A party who arranged for the disposal of contamination
  • One who transported the hazardous substances to the property

Condemning authorities can, however, avail of Superfund’s bona fide prospective purchaser defense by engaging in all appropriate inquiry in advance of condemnation and/or taking reasonable post condemnation steps with respect to any known or discovered contamination.… Read More »

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Seller Liability for Disclosures (or Non-Disclosures), Part 2

May 12, 2014

By:  Kevin J. Parker

In our blog post dated April 29, 2013, Matthew Fischer discussed the case Lerner v. DMB Realty, LLC (Arizona Court of Appeals, November 27, 2012).  In that case, the Arizona Court of Appeals addressed, among other things, the viability of a claim wherein a buyer of residential real estate alleged that the seller had an obligation – under the facts of that case – to disclose that they were selling because of the presence of a registered sex offender next door.

The complicating factor was that Arizona, by statute, expressly states that sellers are not obligated to disclose the existence of registered sex offenders in the vicinity. … Read More »

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Statutory Caveat Emptor Survives…or Does It?

By:  Matthew P. Fischer

Arizona has codified the concept of caveat emptor (i.e., buyer beware) for three particular circumstances.  Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-2156, real property sellers are not obligated to disclose:  (1) deaths or felonies that have occurred on the premises; (2) prior occupancy by someone with a non-communicable disease; and (3) nearby sex offender residents.  The constitutionality of § 32-2156 was recently challenged in Lerner v. DMB Realty, et al., 294 P.3d 135 (Ariz. Ct. App. Nov. 27, 2012), specifically with respect to subsection three (click on the case name for the full opinion of the court). … Read More »

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