Ackerman & Ackerman is one of the premier law firms specializing in representing property owners in eminent domain and condemnation actions.
The law firm was founded in 1931 by Irving Ackerman, who was widely respected for fighting on behalf of aggrieved homeowners who were displaced by urban renewal projects. In 1965, Irving championed the groundbreaking eminent domain case In re Urban Renewal (City of Detroit v. Cassese), 136 N.W.2d 896 (Mich. 1965), in which the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that when the value of a property decreases in anticipation of an eminent domain project, that loss in value should not be considered in determining the just compensation owing to the property owner. That rule served as the basis for Michigan Model Jury Instruction 90.15.
Ackerman & Ackerman is now managed by Irving’s son, Alan Ackerman, who partners with his son, Matthew Ackerman. Under Alan’s management, the firm has gained national acclaim as a leading eminent domain law firm and has obtained over $700,000,000 in jury verdicts and settlements for property owners. Matthew now strives to continue his father and grandfather’s legacy of protecting property owners from government abuse.
Ackerman & Ackerman has won several noteworthy cases over multiple decades and has made critical contributions to the rights of private property owners.
One of the firm’s most impactful cases was County of Wayne v. Hathcock, 684 N.W.2d 765 (Mich. 2004), which overruled the infamous decision Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit, 304 N.W.2d 455 (Mich. 1981). In Poletown, the Michigan Supreme Court broadened the scope of the eminent domain power, enabling government entities to seize land for the benefit of private corporations at the expense of local residents and communities. In the years that followed Poletown, state and federal courts throughout the country adopted its interpretation of the Constitution’s Public Use Clause and qualified any indirect impact on the public as a valid “public use” under the Constitution. In Hathcock, Alan Ackerman convinced the Michigan Supreme Court to overrule Poletown and vindicate a critical legal principle that protects private property owners from government abuse. The case is now widely read in law school property courses and has influenced almost all other states to adopt similar interpretations of the Public Use Clause. The Supreme Court also cited the case as an example of how states may impose greater restrictions on the taking of private property than the federal constitution in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).
Ackerman & Ackerman provides top-tier expertise and frequently consults with attorneys and corporate counsel nationwide.
Lawyers from our firm have have served as adjunct professors of law, teaching eminent domain at The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Michigan State University College of Law. We are also prolific lecturers in eminent domain in continuing education programs, ABA seminars, The Appraisal Institute, IRWA, and ASA programs in dozens of states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. Topics covered have included federal condemnation law, state eminent domain procedures, compensation requirements, eminent domain ethics, partial takings, and payment for going concern.