Gomez v. Kanawha County Comm'n (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
The Kanawha County Commission is a member of the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates Yeager Airport. At the behest of the FAA, they began a project to remove a hill in Charleston's Coal Branch Heights neighborhood. The Commission wanted to acquire the 10-acre “Nutter Farm” to deposit material removed from the hill and purchased a two-thirds interest, paying $58,333.33 for each one-third interest, then filed a condemnation petition against the third owner, Gomez. The court determined that the Commission’s stated purposes were a proper public use and appointed condemnation commissioners, who valued Gomez’s share at $33,335. The court permitted the Commission to deposit $33,335 and granted immediate possession. Following discovery, the court struck the testimony of Gomez’s expert, struck Gomez’s claims, and granted the Commission summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Appeals reversed in part. The court upheld the determination of public use; the holding that any enhancement or depreciation in value caused by the project for which the land was taken must be disregarded in determining market value; and striking Gomez’s expert. The court erred in striking Gomez’s “claims” as a sanction for her failure to appear at her deposition; in taking judicial notice of the commissioners’ report on the value of the land; and in entering summary judgment. Gomez has a right to testify to the value of her interest in the property on the date of the taking by the Commission.