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City of Harrisburg v. Leigh

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-16-2013
Case #: A144466
Sercombe, J., for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Hadlock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A144466.pdf

Land Use: In a judgment award for fixtures placed by a trespassing city onto an owner's property to the owner, when the city condemns the property, the value of the improvements and fixtures must be included in the fair market value assessment of the condemnation proceeding.

Leigh appealed from a judgment condemning property she owns, giving title the City of Harrisburg, and her award of compensation for the taking. The City of Harrisburg (City) accidentally built a well for the public water utility on Leigh’s land. City filed suit for adverse possession, Leigh counterclaimed for ejectment, and the trial court found for Leigh; the judgment required the well be dismantled. The day after the date the judgment required the well to be dismantled by, City initiated condemnation proceedings. City claimed it owned the well and only compensated Leigh for the land, and the trial court agreed. Leigh appealed, citing as error the court’s conclusion that the City still owned the well. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the previous judgment for ejectment gave the City the right to recover the value of the well, but that it forfeited that right by failing to do so by the required date. After the forfeiture, the well became the property of Leigh, and she should have been compensated for the improvement in addition to the taking for its fair market value when City condemned the property. Reversed and remanded.