Appeal from the 22nd Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
2013-12755 Honorable Scott C. Gardner, Judge Presiding
S. Reich Marva J. Wyatt Daniel E. Levy Metairie, LA Attorneys
for Defendant-Appellant, Acadian Properties Northshore,
L. Bradford, III Patrick E. Moore D. Stephen Brouillette, Jr.
Covington, LA Jonathan C. Augustine Baton Rouge, LA Attorneys
for Plaintiff-Appellee, State ofLouisiana, Department of
Transportation & Development
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, THERIOT, AND CHUTZ, JJ.
expropriation case, the property owner, Acadian Properties
Northshore, L.L.C. ("Acadian Properties"), appeals
the amount of just compensation awarded by a jury.
vacant, relatively undeveloped property at issue is located
in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, fronting Louisiana State
Highway 21 ("Hwy 21"). Prior to the expropriation
of .932 acres by the State of Louisiana, Department of
Transportation and Development ("DOTD"), the tract
measured a total of 8.138 acres. Acadian Properties acquired
the property in 2007 at a cost of $10.50 per square foot, at
a total cost of just under $4, 000, 000.00, with the
intention of eventually developing a commercial shopping
center at the location. Over the next several years, Acadian
Properties obtained some parish permits for site preparation
work such as excavating/clearing parts of the property,
placing of driveways, and for filling and/or raising the
grade of the property to match the level of Hwy 21.
Construction of driveways, parking lots, or buildings never
commenced, but some of the land was actually cleared and
filled before the expropriation. Acadian Properties estimated
that it spent approximately $700, 000.00 in site preparation
for the entire 8.138 acres.
12, 2013, DOTD filed a petition seeking to expropriate full
ownership of a .932 acre portion of Acadian Properties'
larger tract for highway widening purposes. The expropriated
portion fronted Hwy 21 and was designated as Parcel 7-1. DOTD
acquired title to Parcel 7-1 on June 14, 2013, when it
deposited $469, 118.00 (the estimated just compensation due
Acadian Properties for the property taken) into the registry
of the 22nd Judicial District Court, pursuant to
Louisiana's "quick-taking" procedure set forth
in La. R.S. 48:441-60. The district court signed an order
allowing Acadian Properties to subsequently withdraw the
deposit from the registry, without prejudice to Acadian
Properties' right to contest the issue of the amount of
Properties filed an answer and reconventional demand in
response to DOTD's petition, seeking additional just
compensation for the value of its land that had been taken by
DOTD. Acadian Properties also sought severance and economic
damages for lost income connected with the future development
of a shopping center on the entire tract of land. DOTD filed
a motion for summary judgment, alleging that Acadian
Properties' claim for future lost income related to a
shopping center that had not been constructed was highly
speculative and not supported by the evidence. The district
court agreed with DOTD and granted a partial summary judgment
in favor of DOTD on the issue of economic damages connected
with lost income from the future development of the shopping
to the jury trial in this matter, DOTD filed numerous motions
in limine seeking to exclude or limit certain testimony and
evidence, including evidence concerning DOTD's
acquisition of neighboring properties for the Hwy 21 widening
project; testimony from witnesses, including expert
witnesses, not previously identified; and expert opinion
testimony pertaining to opinions outside of the "four
corners" of the experts' written reports. After a
jury trial on November 5-6, 2015, Acadian Properties was
awarded an additional amount of $99, 130.80 for just
compensation on Parcel 7-1 that was in excess of the
previously deposited amount, plus attorney fees and costs. A
final judgment was signed accordingly on April 6, 2016.
Acadian Properties appealed, maintaining that the judgment
failed to award the "full extent" of its loss,
including severance damages, that the district court erred in
granting DOTD's motion for partial summary judgment,
thereby effectively excluding all evidence of economic loss
from the future development of a shopping center, and that
the district court erred in numerous evidentiary rulings.
LAW ON EXPROPRIATION
concerning the compensation due a landowner whose property
has been expropriated is well settled. Louisiana Constitution
Article I, Section 4(B), provides in pertinent part:
(1) Property shall not be taken or damaged by the state ...
except for public purposes and with just
compensation paid to the owner or ...