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High court reverses $2.3 million jury award

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The Indiana Supreme Court reduced a $2.3 million jury award in favor of an Evansville shopping center owner, affirming a previous ruling that shopping center owners aren't entitled to consequential damages from street reconfigurations that affect traffic flow to the shops and prevent expansion of existing exit and entrance points.

The high court was split 3-2 in its decision in State of Indiana v. Kimco of Evansville, Inc., et al., No. 82S01-0806-CV-308, in which the majority reaffirmed its decision in State v. Ensley, 240 Ind. 472, 164 N.E.2d 342 (1960).

Kimco owns the Plaza East Shopping Center, which has two main entrances and exits on Green River Road in Evansville. The state acquired a 0.1540-acre strip of land along the western border of the shopping center to widen Green River Road and improve traffic flow to and from the Lloyd Expressway. Because of the construction, Plaza East couldn't add new entrances on Green River Road or widen its existing access points. The construction also modified the original traffic flow in and out of the center, but kept the existing entrances and exits.

After construction was complete, Kimco filed suit for damages, claiming the construction affected traffic flow to and from the complex and the shopping center had depreciated in value. The jury awarded Kimco $2.3 million, finding the company suffered a particular, private injury resulting from interference of Kimco's rights of ingress and egress. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the admittance of Kimco's loss-of-access evidence and the jury award.

Citing its previous ruling in Ensley, the Supreme Court found Kimco is only entitled to $100,700, the value of the physical taking of the strip of land and temporary construction easement. Although an elimination of rights of ingress and egress constitutes a compensable taking, the mere reduction in or reduction of traffic flow to a commercial property isn't a compensable taking of a property right, wrote Justice Theodore Boehm.

As in Ensley, Plaza East Shopping Center's existing access points hadn't been eliminated or narrowed as a result of the construction, nor did the reconfigurations deprive the owners of their right to ingress or egress.

"The only substantive allegation is that traffic flow to the shopping complex has been encumbered. Under Ensley and its progeny, these consequences from the State's roadway improvements are not compensable because no property right has been taken," he wrote.

While the instant case has a merge lane and entrance congestion that wasn't present in Ensley, neither affects the fundamental point that they aren't attributable to the deprivation of any property right.

The majority reversed the judgment and remanded for proceedings consistent with the opinion. Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker dissented, believing the Court of Appeals correctly decided the case.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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