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Law of the Land Government interest in your property could bring business to a screeching halt. Know how to work the system for the best deal.

By Steven C. Bahls

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Bad news. Your brother just overheard two regional plannershaving a discussion about a proposed freeway access ramp, and itseems they want to run it right through your store. "Noway!" you cry. "They can't do that to me!"

Well, yes, they can. Under the legal principle of "eminentdomain," the government has a right to take private propertyfrom you when it's needed for a public purpose. If a federal,state or local government wants to widen a road or build a new cityhall and needs your property to do it, it has a right to force youto sell. You do have a right to fair compensation, but you mightnot agree with what the government offers to pay.

A PHONE CALLAWAY:Following up on our July 2000 "Legal Aid" column, a Florida jury recentlyawarded nearly $21 million to a woman who was severely injured in acrash caused by a driver who was talking to a customer on his cellphone. Because the driver was on business at the time, theemployer, Dyke Industries Inc. of Little Rock, Arkansas, was heldliable.

"Every business should have an employeecar cell phone use policy, not just to prevent accidents but alsoto protect against punitive damages," says Miami attorney MarkCheskin. "Due to the potential size of these verdicts, a smallbusiness could find itself just one cell phone call away frombankruptcy."

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