Justice in the Didden Case

You remember the Didden case? Of course you do. That was the wretched Port Chester, New York, controversy in which Didden was about to build a major drugstore when he was approached by a redeveloper who demanded either $800,000 or 50% of the action, or else the subject property would be taken by the local redevelopment agency. Didden refused, and the property was taken over his protests that this was extortionate.

Now, we get a dispatch from the New York Appellate Division, in the form of an opinion, In the Matter of Village of Port Chester, 2012 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3420. The trial court had awarded $3,062,000, and the Village appealed, claiming error by way of the trial court’s finding that the subject property should be valued as one larger parcel. Though there were several partial owners, they were unified in the purpose and efforts to obtain proper entitlements for a new drugstore, and that made the subject property one parcel for valuation purposes. There was unity of use, and the owners of various interests had agreed to share equally in expenses, which satisfied the unity of title requirement.

Finally, justice was done — the bad guys got it in the chops. The Village’s appraiser had destroyed earlier versions of his appraisal reports, whereas USPAP requires that they be retained for use in cross-examination. For this the trial court imposed sanctions in the form of “accord[ing] an adverse inference with regard to the destruction of prior draft appraisals. . .” The opinion does not indicate how much difference that made in the monetary outcome, but it must have smarted because the Village appealed on that point but to no avail.

Follow up: Oops! We almost forgot. At trial, the Village contended that just compensation payable for this taking was $975,000, which makes the award over three times the Village contention, and qualifies this post for our  “Lowball Watch” category.

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