Property Owners Not Entitled to Interest on Relocation Benefits Following Condemnation Proceedings

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Washington property owners’ right to recover interest on relocation assistance benefits following an eminent domain case was short-lived, as the Washington Supreme Court has reversed last year’s Court of Appeals decision granting that right. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Union Elevator & Warehouse Co. v. Department of Transportation means that property owners are no longer entitled to seek interest on relocation assistance benefits and, therefore, will bear the cost of any delays if a dispute arises over entitlement to the award.

Typically, the government is not liable for interest on a judgment unless it has waived sovereign immunity. Washington state statute expressly waives state immunity for an award of interest in condemnation proceedings, but the issue in Union Elevator was whether that waiver applies to interest for relocation assistance benefits. Union Elevator sought interest on the $235,000 awarded to it for moving the contents of its grain elevator business following a partial taking by eminent domain.

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