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Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Nearly $2 Mil Judgement Against St Louis County in Eminent Domain Case

Eminent Domain Case

The Missouri Supreme Court just handed down an opinion affirming a jury’s  award of $1,950,000 to a an owner of property 1653 Creve Coeur Mill Road which was taken by eminent domain by St. Louis County for the Page/Olive connector as part of the Highway 141 extension.

The events leading up to this case began in December 2009 when St Louis County filed a condemnation suit against  property owners to make way for part of the extension of highway 141 which included 1653 Creve Coeur Mill, at the time owned by descendants of Arthur and Stella Novel.  According to court records, the Novels first acquired the property in 1904.  In 2010 the court entered the condemnation order clearing the way for St Louis County to acquire the property from the Novel’s and other property owners.  The Novel’s and the county were not able to reach an agreement on the price, therefore, consistent with state eminent domain laws, the court appointed three commissioners to determine the value of the Novel’s property.  Ultimately, the commissioners awarded the Novels $320,000 for their property which the Novels were not satisfied with and requested a jury trial.  From the best I can tell from the court documents, the Novel’s would have accepted a price of $496,000 from the county at the time.

Prior to the trial, the commissioners filed a new report stating that the Novels had owned the property for more than 50 years, which is significant as Missouri eminent domain law requires a 50 percent bonus (Heritage Value) to be paid when property taken has been in the same family for 50 years or more.  As a result, the court awarded an additional $160,000 to the Novels as Heritage value, bringing the total for their 15 acres to $480,000.  The jury trial then took place in December 2011 resulting in the jury awarding the Novel’s $1.3 Mil for their property and the court adding $650,000 for the heritage value, resulting in a total judgment for $1.95 Mil for the Novel’s (I’m guessing at that point St Louis county was wishing they would have went ahead and paid the Novel’s the $496,000 they wanted).  St Louis county filed an appeal on several grounds, however, today, the Supreme Court handed down it’s decision affirming the judgment of $1.95 Mil to the Novel’s.

 

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