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When court orders distribution of award from eminent domain proceeding, it may only award funds to parties in interest from that eminent domain proceeding.

According to the Supreme Court of Kansas, when a court orders distribution of an appraiser's award from an eminent domain proceeding, it may only distribute the award to parties in interest from the proceeding.

In December 2009, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) filed a petition seeking to exercise the power of eminent domain over several tracts of land in Riley County, Kansas, including a tract owned by Oscar Armendariz. KDOT's petition listed Richard and Angel Britt (the Britts) as interested parties, because the Britts had an ongoing quiet title action seeking to claim title to Armendariz's tract through adverse possession. Attorney Robert Marek represented Armendariz in both cases. The Britts were represented by Vernon Jarboe in the eminent domain proceeding and by Jim Morrison in the quiet title action.

KDOT's initial settlement offer was $7,000. On February 10, 2010, court-appointed appraisers entered an award of $18,000 ("appraisers' award") for the tract in the eminent domain proceeding. After the award, Jarboe, the Britts' attorney in the eminent domain proceeding, sent a letter to both Morrison and Marek as attorneys in the quiet title action. Citing his agreement with the Britts, Jarboe claimed that he was entitled to a fee of $2,750 for his work.

Subsequently, the Britts filed a motion in the eminent domain proceeding seeking distribution of the $18,000 appraisers' award for Armendariz's tract, and specifically requested that their attorney, Jarboe, be awarded his fees first. Armendariz filed a response, arguing that Jarboe was not entitled to an award of attorney fees because the Britts' quiet title proceeding and Armendariz's appeal of the appraisers' award were both still pending. In August 2010, the district court entered an order distributing the appraisers' award and concluded that a portion of the $18,000 award was due to Jarboe's work. Thus, the court awarded $2,750 to Jarboe, with the remainder being paid to Armendariz.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Kansas noted that, under the Kansas Eminent Domain Procedure Act, appraisers must first determine the amount of the award and then the parties in interest divide the award among themselves. If the parties cannot agree upon how to divide the award, pursuant to the statute the court allocates the award to the various parties in interest. The court noted that at the time the district court awarded a portion of the appraisers' award to Jarboe he was neither a party to the eminent domain proceeding nor was he listed as an interested party with respect to the Armendariz tract. Thus, Jarboe was never a party in interest under the statute. Moreover, as the Britts' quiet title action had been resolved in favor of Armendariz, only Armendariz himself was a party in interest in the eminent domain award proceeding.

As such, the Supreme Court of Kansas found that the district court lacked authority to order final distribution of the appraisers' award because there was no dispute among the parties of interest, as Armendariz was the only remaining party of interest. The district court's order was reversed, and the supreme court ordered the entire award be paid to Armendariz.

Miller v. FW Commercial Properties

Supreme Court of Kansas

March 9, 2012

272 P.3d 596

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Title Annotation:Recent Court Decisions
Publication:Appraisal Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2012
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