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STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF MISSISSIPPI v. RANKIN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

SEPTEMBER 14, 1988

STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF MISSISSIPPI
v.
RANKIN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, ET AL.



BEFORE DAN LEE, P.J., PRATHER AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

ZUCCARO, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

We are called on today to determine the amount of fee that may be awarded to a court appointed appraiser in an eminent domain action pursuant to 11-27-89 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. The Special Court of Eminent Domain of Rankin County awarded such a court appointed appraiser a fee of $1,800 for appraising certain sixteenth section land. The State Highway Commission, feeling aggrieved by the amount of fee awarded by the lower court, now appeals.

FACTS

 On January 24, 1986 the State Highway Commission of Mississippi filed a complaint against the Rankin County Board of Education as fee owner and five other defendants as lessees of the same parcel of land for the purpose of condemning said land and the leasehold interest burdening and encumbering said land.

 The special court of eminent domain appointed Sam Rawls to appraise the property pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated 11-27-83 (Supp. 1986) commonly known as the" quick take statute ". Mr. Rawls conducted the appraisal, and subsequently on March 14, 1986 the lower court issued an order directing the State Highway Commission to pay $1,800 to Sam Rawls as the fee for his appraisal. On June 12, 1986 the State Highway Commission moved the lower court to reconsider the fee on the basis that 11-27-89 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 allows a maximum fee to a court appointed appraiser of $300" for his services ". Subsequently, a hearing was conducted in which the lower court considered appellant's motion to reconsider. The lower court determined that, due to the complex nature of the present case, involving five lessees of the sixteenth section land, that the original fee of $1,800 awarded to Mr. Rawls was proper. The State Highway Commission now appeals assigning one error as follows.

 I. DID THE SPECIAL COURT OF EMINENT DOMAIN OF RANKIN COUNTY ERR IN GRANTING THE COURT APPOINTED APPRAISER $1,800 IN COMPENSATION?

 Section 11-27-89 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 sets forth the amount of compensation that may be made to a court appointed appraiser in an eminent domain action as follows:

 The appraiser shall receive as compensation for his services such sum, plus expenses, as the court shall allow, which shall be taxed as cost in the proceedings; provided that the sum allowed shall not exceed Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00). . . .

 In the hearing below appellant brought to the attention of the trial court that the above section provided a maximum payment to a court appointed appraiser of $300, and that an award to Mr. Rawls had been made in the amount of $1,800. The lower court justified the $1,800 amount on the basis that, while ownership of the sixteenth section land was vested solely in the Rankin County Board of Education, there were five leaseholder interest in the subject property. Because of the numerous interest in the property, the lower court stated that it was unreasonable to believe that an appraisal could be done for only $300, and as such the $1,800 figure was proper. Thus, the question on appeal is, what effect does the existence of various leasehold interest in one unit of property have on the $300 maximum fee for a court appointed appraiser as set forth above in 11-27-89.

 Section 11-27-13 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 provides as follows:

 Each different property, identified by separate ownership, shall constitute a separate cause of action and require a separate trial, unless otherwise agreed by all parties with approval of the court.

 In Lennep v. Mississippi State Highway Commission, 347 So. 2d 341 (Miss. 1977), this Court stated, in construing the above statute, that the Legislature intended for the unit rule to be applied in determining compensation in eminent domain cases, and that this Court additionally follows the unit evaluation method of determining compensation where a property sought to be condemned involves a leasehold interest. Lennep at 343. We also held in Lennep that the proper procedure under the unit valuation method of

 determining valuation is to file the petition AGAINST all persons and parties claiming an interest in the property. We said in Lee v. Indian Creek Drainage District, 346 Miss. 254, 148 So. 2d 663, 666 (1963):

 Where there are different interest or estates in the property acquired by condemnation the proper course is to ascertain the entire compensation to be awarded as though the property belonged to one person and then apportion this sum among ...


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