RTD v. 750 West 48th Ave., LLCAnnotate this Case
In 2011, Regional Transportation District ("RTD") filed a petition in condemnation against 750 West 48th Ave., LLC ("Landowner") to acquire the property for development of a light rail project. Landowner was leasing the property to a commercial waterproofing business. Over the years, Landowner had made several luxury improvements to the property, including adding a steam room, a fitness room, an atrium, ceramic and cherry-wood flooring, and marble and granite finishes. The parties stipulated to every condemnation issue except the property's reasonable market value. Landowner elected to litigate the property's value through a commission trial, in which a trial judge appointed three independent freeholders to determine the value of a condemned property under a judge's supervision. RTD estimated the reasonable market value of the condemned property at $1,800,000. Landowner proffered a reasonable market value of $2,570,000. While Landowner's calculations focused solely on the cost of replacement, RTD based its estimation on a "superadequacy" theory, asserting that many of the luxury improvements that Landowner had made to the industrial property would not fetch a price on the open market commensurate with their costs of replacement. To bolster its theory, RTD sought to introduce the two pieces of evidence central to this appeal: (1) testimony from expert witness Steve Serenyi regarding alternate approaches to calculating the value, including comparable property values and an income-based approach; and (2) evidence regarding the value of the property to which Landowner relocated its business. The Colorado Supreme Court surmised that the overarching issue in this case centered on the interplay between the respective authorities of the supervising judge and the commission to make evidentiary rulings in eminent domain valuation hearings. Specifically, at issue was: (1) whether a commission may alter a supervising judge's ruling in limine regarding admissibility; and (2) whether the supervising judge may instruct the commission to disregard as irrelevant evidence that the commission had previously admitted. The Court held that judicial evidentiary rulings controlled in valuation hearings. Thus, the Court affirmed the court of appeals 'judgment insofar as it approved of the supervising judge instructing the commission to disregard previously admitted evidence as irrelevant and reverse that portion of the court of appeals opinion permitting the commission to alter the judge's evidentiary ruling in limine.