Ohio Supreme Court Holds that Government Must Prove It Needs Land It Wants to Take Through Eminent Domain

Institute for Justice, which argued 2006 landmark Ohio eminent domain case, praises decision.

Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · December 29, 2022

COLUMBUS—Today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Ohio Power Company must provide evidence supporting its attempts to use eminent domain to take property or acquire easements. The Institute for Justice, which argued on behalf of homeowners in a 2006 landmark case, Norwood v. Horney, submitted an amicus brief in the case and praised today’s outcome.

The case decided today was brought by four farmers in Washington County. The farmers did not oppose all aspects of the easement application but did argue that the Ohio Power Company’s demands went well beyond what it needs in order to provide service. A lower court sided with the power company, essentially concluding that any request the company made could not be contested by property owners in court. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision overturning the lower court and wrote that, “[A] blanket statement that all the easement terms are necessary, without findings to support that decision beyond the deference given to [the power company] makes us question whether the trial court did conduct the appropriate review.”

“Without judicial review of necessity, a power company could take however much land it wanted, even if it needed only a fraction of the amount,” said IJ Attorney Daniel Nelson. “But today’s unanimous ruling is clear: before the government can take private land, it must first prove it truly needs it.”