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City to pay for expert witnesses in condemnation case.

The Supreme Court of Nebraska held that fees paid by a landowner to expert witnesses in an eminent domain proceeding abandoned by a city could be recovered from the city.

In November 2000, the City of Gordon, Nebraska, filed a petition to condemn a portion of property owned by the Ruses for use in the construction, operation, and maintenance of a municipal well field. The Ruses opposed the petition claiming that the city had failed to negotiate the purchase of the land in good faith. After numerous proceedings, the city, on its own motion, dismissed tire condemnation proceedings. Subsequently, the Ruses filed a motion alleging they incurred significant legal and expert witness fees because of the condemnation proceedings. The trial court refused to award the Ruses any amount of the fees and costs incurred in retaining expert witnesses because the experts never performed any services or function in the county court. The Ruses appealed.

The appellate court said that state law provides for a landowner to be awarded reasonable costs "actually incurred because of the condemnation proceedings." The court said that the Ruses hired experts to establish fair market value of their property solely because of, and in connection with, the condemnation proceedings. Thus, the court said that the Buses could recover such fees after the city abandoned its condemnation petition, even though the petition was abandoned before the experts' valuation of the property was used in the condemnation proceedings. The trial court decision was reversed and the case sent back for a determination of the reasonableness of the fees.

City of Gordon v. Ruse

Supreme Court of Nebraska

October 8, 2004

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Title Annotation:cases in brief
Publication:Appraisal Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U4NE
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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