The Appellate Group

Utah Department of Transportation v. Boggess-Draper Company

Utah Department of Transportation v. Boggess-Draper Company, 2020 UT 35 (Lee, A.C.J.)

Property: Eminent Domain

In 2009, UDOT took a company’s property under eminent domain. The company sold its remaining property several years later, and the property was developed. At a subsequent trial about the value of the taken property, the district court excluded evidence of the subsequent sale. The jury awarded $1.7 million for the property. The company sought an award of attorney fees, arguing that just compensation included attorney fees. The district court denied that request. The Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding:

  • In a takings case, the date of valuation of the taken property is at the time of the taking. But nothing in the code or caselaw supports a categorical rule precluding post-valuation facts and circumstances to prove damages. A post-valuation-date sale or other development is not conclusive evidence of value or necessarily admissible, but it is potentially relevant evidence that is not categorically barred. Thus, the district court incorrectly excluded evidence of the company’s sale of the remaining property.
  • Just compensation under article I, section 22 of the Utah Constitution guarantees recovery for takings of and damages to property, but does not sweep more broadly to cover costs incurred in defending a condemnation action. Thus, the district court properly denied the company’s motion for attorney fees and costs.