San Diego Gas & Electric Company v. SchmidtAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) initiated eminent domain proceedings to condemn an easement for electric transmission lines across the property of defendants Arnold and Valerie Schmidt and Luis Naranjo after the parties could not agree on an appropriate valuation for the property. Agreeing with defendants' experts that an open-pit mining operation was the "highest and best use" for the land, the jury valued the property at about $8 million. SDG&E appealed, contending the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury's verdict. SDG&E also contends it was entitled to a new trial because the trial court abused its discretion: (1) in limiting the cross-examination of defendants' appraisal expert and (2) allowing the appraiser to testify in violation of Evidence Code section 819. Defendants cross-appealed, asserting the trial court erred in denying their request for litigation expenses under Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410. The Court of Appeal rejected SDG&E's arguments and affirmed the judgment and order denying JNOV. The Court reversed the order denying defendants' motion for litigation expenses.