What Is An Inverse Condemnation Action ?

An inverse condemnation action, in contrast to a condemnation action initiated by the condemning public agency, is an eminent domain action initiated by one whose property was taken or damaged for public use. The principles of eminent domain law apply to inverse condemnation proceedings. (Belmont County Water Dist. v. State of California (1976) 65 Cal. App. 3d 13, 19, fn. 3 [135 Cal. Rptr. 163].) The fundamental policy underlying the concept of inverse condemnation is that the costs of a public improvement benefiting the community should be spread among those benefited rather than allocated to a single member of the community. (Belair, supra, 47 Cal. 3d at p. 558.) A successful inverse condemnation claimant must prove that a public entity has taken or damaged its property for a public use. (San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. Superior Court (1996) 13 Cal. 4th 893, 939-940 [55 Cal. Rptr. 2d 724, 920 P.2d 669].) Article I, section 19 of the California Constitution has been interpreted by our Supreme Court to mean that "any actual physical injury to real property proximately caused by [a public] improvement as deliberately designed and constructed is compensable . . . whether foreseeable or not." (Albers v. County of Los Angeles (1965) 62 Cal. 2d 250, 263-264 [42 Cal. Rptr. 89, 398 P.2d 129].) Damage caused by the public improvement as deliberately conceived, altered or maintained may be recovered under inverse condemnation (Barham v. Southern Cal. Edison Co. (1999) 74 Cal. App. 4th 744, 755 [88 Cal. Rptr. 2d 424]) and the presence or absence of fault by the public entity ordinarily is irrelevant. (Marshall v. Department of Water & Power, supra, 219 Cal. App. 3d at p. 1138.)