When the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission eyed 0.338 acres of land owned by the Abrahams family in Amherst, an appraiser hired by the department valued the plot at $11,865. The Commission offered the family $13,400. After they declined, the Turnpike turned to the courts, suing for eminent domain. It sought the plot, part of 123 acres the family had purchased years back, to fill in an overpass and get rid of a bridge.
The Turnpike won but the hard feelings were only beginning. The Abrahams received a check for just $11,865, the initial figure, which was not only less than the initial offer but magnitudes less than what they thought the land was worth: An appraiser they had hired valued the acreage and damages of the Turnpike's land grab at more than $1 million. So, they sued.
Last week, after three days of proceedings in Lorain County probate court, a jury sided with them, awarding the Abrahams $1,092,081.
"Justice was served," said Dennis O'Toole, the family's attorney. "Both the United States and the Ohio Constitutions require that just compensation be paid to landowners when an agency like the Turnpike Commission takes their land by eminent domain. Landowners in Lorain County and throughout Ohio don’t have to accept an unfairly low offer for their property. They have the right to fight taking in court and let a jury decide what fair compensation for the property really is.”