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STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF MISSISSIPPI v. R. L. HAYES

MARCH 22, 1989

STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF MISSISSIPPI
v.
R. L. HAYES, ET AL.



BEFORE DAN LEE, P.J., PRATHER & SULLIVAN, JJ.

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This case presents this Court with yet another opportunity to review the Mississippi State Highway Commission's widening of Highway #16 in Leake County. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes are the owners of a triangular shaped 2/10ths of an acre tract of land located in the City of Carthage on the south side of Highway #16. The property had approximately 195.2 feet of frontage along Highway #16 with the depth at its deepest side of 91 feet. The property was elevated to highway level and was being used as a service station. The front half was condemned pursuant to the" quick take "eminent domain statutes found in Section 11-27-81, et seq., Mississippi Code Annotated (1972), as Amended. During the course of the proceedings the jury was taken to see the property in question and the surrounding area. When the case was submitted to the jury, it returned a verdict of $40,000.00 for the landowners. The Hayes filed a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict or in the alternative, a Motion for a New Trial. On June 16, 1986, the trial court entered its order sustaining the motion of defendants for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and granting a new trial. In this judgment, the court held that the verdict of the jury in this cause was grossly inadequate and

unconscionable and thereby granted an additur of $25,000.00, bringing the total verdict to $65,000.00, or in the alternative, a new trial. The Commission promptly filed its rejection of additur and has now appealed to this Court assigning one error:

 1. The lower court erred in disturbing the findings of the jury by entering an additur of $25,000.00, thereby increasing the award from $40,000.00 to $65,000.00.

 The Hayes cross-appeal and assign the following as error:

 1. The trial court erred in ruling that the cross-appellants would not be allowed to call the court appointed expert appraiser as a witness in the trial of this cause;

 2. The court erred in entering its order of discovery dated the 6th day of November, 1985, and further its order dated June 11, 1986, for the reason that these orders of the court so limited discovery in this case as to effectively deny the cross-appellants the right of discovery provided by the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure; and

 3. The trial court erred in overruling the cross-appellants' motion for the court to award the cross-appellants' attorneys fees, expert witness fees and other expenses of litigation in this cause.

 DIRECT APPEAL

 I.

 DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN DISTURBING THE FINDINGS OF THE JURY BY ENTERING AN ADDITUR OF $25,000.00, THEREBY INCREASING THE AWARD FROM $40,000.00 TO $65,000.00?

 At trial, the State presented its staff appraiser who valued the lot and improvements before the taking at $41,820.00. He assessed the damage to all improvements at $28,140.00 and the difference in value of the lot before and after the taking at $9,325.00 for a total compensation due of $37,465.00.

 The landowners presented a Carthage Real Estate Appraiser, Mr. Thomas Ruffin, who valued the lot and improvements before the taking at $107,000.00. He

 determined a value of the land after the taking of $16,250.00 which when added to the $3,000.00 estimated salvage value, gave total ...


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