Lowball Watch – Maine

The Forecaster newspaper reports an eminent domain award that is 150 times the city’s offer, though the figures indicate a much higher multiplier. Randy Billings, Court Cuts $100K From Portland’s Debt to Waterfront Owner, The Forecaster, August 24, 2011. The article is none too clear on the arithmetic of this case, and focuses primarily on the trial judge’s reduction of accrued prejudgment interest. Evidently, in Maine interest runs from the filing of the eminent domain lawsuit, but here the judge ordered that interest run only from the time the Maine Supreme Court upheld the city’s right to take a railroad easement from a waterfront property owner.

The city paid or deposited $5000, but the jury awarded $795,000, including $200,000 in prejudgment interest. But the judge reduced the award of interest from six years’ worth to 3.5 years, thus saving the city $96,000, according to the city’s attorney. What we find confusing about this article is that the city’s attorney is also quoted as saying that the city’s cost of that easement acquisition came to $870,000. Go figure.

But any way you slice it, the city started out at $5000, but wound up paying $870,000, which according to our calculator comes to 175 times the city’s deposit.

For the whole Forecaster story click here — If you can figure how these figures are consistent, please let us know.