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John Burke has over thirty-five years’ experience litigating eminent domain cases on behalf of both condemnors and property owners throughout Virginia. More important, John has a proven track record of success on behalf of his clients.

John has handled hundreds of condemnation cases involving all types of property - commercial, industrial, single and multi-family residential, agricultural, and medical. As a result of this experience, he knows the law, who the best expert witnesses are, how to present the client’s position in the most persuasive way possible, and how to effectively attack the other side’s position.

John Burke has been consistently listed in The Best Lawyers in America© under the categories of Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, and Eminent Domain, and has been listed on numerous occasions in Chambers USA’s America’s Leading Lawyers for Litigation. He has often appeared as a presenter at eminent domain seminars attended by other lawyers. He is the co-author of the chapter on “Valuation” in the 2012 and 2017 editions of the Virginia Lawyer’s Practice Handbook entitled “Eminent Domain Law in Virginia.”

In 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2024 John was named Richmond’s “Lawyer of the Year” in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law by The Best Lawyers in America©, and was named Richmond’s "Lawyer of the Year" for Real Estate Litigation for 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Representative Cases

From approximately 1982 until 1989, Mays & Valentine (now Troutman Sanders LLP) represented the Virginia Department of Transportation in condemnation cases in the City of Richmond and in Chesterfield County. The firm handled over 100 cases for VDOT, involving all types of property, and the amounts in issue ranged from fairly small amounts to a case which was settled for $9 million. Many cases were tried to conclusion with favorable results for VDOT. John Burke was lead counsel in these cases. During this time, John was asked by the Attorney General’s office to serve as a lecturer on eminent domain practice to other attorneys throughout the state who were handling VDOT’s condemnation cases. In 1989, the firm decided to discontinue its representation of VDOT. Since then, John has represented and advised landowners and condemnors in eminent domain matters throughout the Commonwealth. At present, John focuses his eminent domain practice on the representation of landowners. Representative cases for landowners are listed below.


  • Obtained settlement for landowner client during trial for $950,000 plus valuable nonmonetary consideration in connection with the taking by VDOT of property for the construction of a portion of Route 895. Settlement made future development much less expensive for the owner of the 1,238-acre tract of land in Henrico County, Virginia. VDOT’s position at trial was that the landowner was entitled to only $246,000.

  • Represented national restaurant company in an eminent domain trial in September, 2007. The Virginia Department of Transportation contended that the property owner was entitled to $443,000 for the taking of most of the restaurant site for a new road. After a two-day trial, the jury returned an award of $819,000 plus interest in the amount of $117,461, for a total award of $936,461.

  • Obtained $614,534 settlement in 2011 for owners of a restaurant building in Newport News where VDOT’s appraisal was only $238,661.

  • Obtained verdict for landowner client of $500,000 in the Circuit Court of Hanover County for land taken and damages to the remainder of the landowner’s property in a case in which VDOT’s office was $291,000.

  • Represented owner of undeveloped land in Goochland County, Virginia, where VDOT took the position that the landowner was entitled to approximately $100,000 for property taken for Route 288, but no damages to the remainder. Landowner believed that the fair market value of the remainder would be substantially damaged as a result of the taking, and after a trial the commissioners awarded the landowner $420,000, which included $320,000 in damages.

  • Obtained award of $287,392 in the Circuit Court of Henrico County on behalf of landowner client in which VDOT’s initial offer was $97,500.

  • Represented owners of 3.5-acre commercial parcel on Route 1 in Hanover County, Virginia. VDOT contended the landowner was entitled to $178,000 for the land taken, with no damages to the remainder. Landowner’s evidence was that the fair market value of the property taken was $201,000, and that the remainder of their property had been damaged as a result of the take in the amount of $106,452. After a trial the commissioners returned an award in favor of the landowners for $307,452 plus interest, the exact amount landowners were seeking.

  • Represented owner/developer of an office building that was under construction in Charlottesville, Virginia. Leases for the building had already been entered into by developer when it was informed by VDOT that a new bypass would require the taking and destruction of the building. John persuaded VDOT to change its plans so that the building was not affected by the take. This was accomplished in a few hours, and resulted in a fee of less than $1,000 to the client.

  • Negotiated settlement of $246,500 for owner of rural property in Varina, Virginia on the eve of trial in which VDOT’s evidence was that the landowner was entitled to only $135,206.

  • Obtained an award of $75,000 plus $15,000 in interest on behalf of owner of rural property in Powhatan County after trial, where utility company’s initial offer was $4,870.

  • Represented over twenty landowners in Chesterfield County, Virginia in connection with the widening of Courthouse Road. Examples include two cases involving single-family residences where VDOT offered each landowner $15,000. The appraiser retained on behalf of landowners testified that each landowner was entitled to approximately $60,000 and after the trials condemnation commissioners awarded that amount to each client. Another case involved property that was suitable for residential subdivision where the offer by VDOT was $33,000, and after trial commissioners awarded landowners $82,000.

  • Represented landowner in a condemnation proceeding in Spotsylvania County in which the Spotsylvania County School Board was condemning approximately 158 acres of a 1,100-acre tract. Negotiated a settlement for the landowner which was 27% higher than the school board’s appraisal ($500,000 vs. $395,000).


John Burke and J. K. Burke Law Firm PLC are ready, willing and able to help you obtain positive results. Please call for more information on the scope of the firm’s condemnation and eminent domain practice.

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