Inverse condemnation occurs when a government action or public project takes private property (or causes property damage) without payment of just compensation as required by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Why is it called “inverse condemnation?” In a direct condemnation case, the government is the plaintiff who sues the defendant-landowner in order to take his or her land. With inverse condemnation, the landowner must sue the government in order to receive compensation. Thus, the landowner is the plaintiff and the government is the defendant, so the action is called “inverse” since the order of the parties is reversed. The taking of property can be physical or it can be a regulatory taking.