The question presented in this case is whether this Court is prepared to abandon more than a century’s worth of Michigan jurisprudence that liberally construes just compensation for a public taking and instead adopt a flawed interpretation that would have the effect of reducing state government costs when the state engages in a partial taking of property for a public project. In this case, a small portion of defendants’ property, valued at $3,800, was taken in a condemnation proceeding by the government plaintiff, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Defendants’ appraiser indicated that defendants’ property lost $48,200 in value due to "highway effects," such as increased dust, dirt, noise, vibration, and smell from the road. MDOT contends no one may ever recover such damage.
In Spiek v Michigan Department of Transportation, 456 Mich 331 (1998), this Court, without discussing the common-understanding doctrine, held that a homeowner who had no physical property taken could not recover where the only claimed damage was related to highway effects. This Court categorized the Spiek claim as an "inverse condemnation" claim. Some Michigan cases predating 1963, however, have allowed such claims.
In the instant case, which involves a partial taking, rather than an inverse condemnation, the Court of Appeals distinguished Spiek in large part because this Court has a long history of granting those who have suffered a partial taking of their land full compensation for the diminution in value of the remainder of the land caused by the taking. Michigan Dep’t of Transp v Tomkins, 270 Mich App 153 (2006).
As will become apparent below, this Court has almost universally held that where there is a partial taking, the owner is entitled to be made whole by receiving compensation for the full diminution in value attributable to the taking. Further, before this Court considers extending Spiek, it should recognize that it has previously decided cases wherein landowners who have not suffered a partial taking have nevertheless been compensated for losses in property value due to public projects. Thus, this Court should allow defendants’ damages claim and consider re-examining the Spiek decision under the common-understanding doctrine when an appropriate case arises.