Lawyers Weekly: Oct 15, 2007
This case arose when the plaintiff, the N.C. Department of Transportation, filed a condemnation action on March 2 2005.
The plaintiff took 3.1 acres of the defendant land owner's 19.9-acre horse farm for a relocated service road that was needed for a new interchange on 1-77 in Iredell County. The plaintiff deposited $157,000 upon filing the action.
The jury awarded $1,013,000 ($856,000 or 545% increase) in damages. Judgment on the verdict awarded an additional $155,000 in post-taking interest and $21,000 in costs for expert witness fees. The final award of just compensation was $1,191,000.
The defendant and her late husband purchased the property in 1972, built their home, raised their family and for many years grew hay and boarded and trained horses on it.
The plaintiff's partial taking left the defendant with a 14-acre parcel of property and an irregular 2.6-acre parcel.
One of the defendant's witnesses, an MM real estate appraiser, said the difference in the fair market value of the property before and after the taking was $I,013,000.
Another witness, an expert in land use and zoning, said the original 19.9-acre property had the reasonable probability of being rezoned before value, and the taking affected the reasonable probability of rezoning the 2.6-acre parcel.
Also, an expert in landscape architecture, land planning and construction drawings for roads and highways for DOT approval, illustrated and explained the improvements and the effect of the taking on the property.
The plaintiff stated in opening statements that it would present evidence of a value between $127,000 and $157,000. However, the plaintiff did not submit any evidence at trial.
After the court entered judgment on the verdict on June 27, 2007, the plain-tiff filed notice of appeal. While the appeal was pending, the parties voluntarily agreed to resolve all issues, and an amended judgment on the verdict was entered in May 2007.
In that judgment, the plaintiff was ordered to pay into court a sum of $1,011,346 in addition to the $157,000 that the plaintiff had deposited with the clerk of court.