CHICAGO - It is not often a jury sides entirely with a condemnor in an eminent domain valuation case. Typically in cases where they don't believe that either side is overreaching, juries favor the Solomon-like approach of "splitting the baby down the middle."
But a Will County jury defied that convention Thursday, siding squarely in favor of the Illinois Department of Transportation ("IDOT") in a dispute with a Braidwood, Ill., gas station owner over the fair market value of property needed for a highway improvement project.
Following IDOT's valuation nearly to the dollar, the jury awarded $115,700 to MKM Oil, Inc. for a portion of real estate that was improved with a gas station on Route 113 in rural Will County. The verdict was just $9,700 above IDOT's appraised value of $106,000. The owner had sought $208,000 from IDOT claiming that the gas station improvements suffered significant damages due to IDOT's acquisition of a permanent easement.
"Obviously, the jury credited the civil engineer and appraiser that we retained for IDOT over the competing experts retained for the owner," said Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. partner Vince Pinelli, who tried the case with BBP associate Amanda Ripp.
The two Special Assistant Attorneys General have proved to be a formidable team. In several other eminent domain cases they have successfully convinced the jury that their appraisals represented the just compensation to be paid the property owners. In addition to Will County, they have obtained favorable verdicts in Lake, Du Page and Cook counties over the last several years.