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State Tax Commission v. United Verde Extension Mining Co.

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 4, 1931

UNITED VERDE EXTENSION MINING COMPANY, a Corporation, Appellee and Cross-Appellant

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Yavapai. Fred W. Fickett, Judge. Judgment affirmed as amended.

Mr. K. Berry Peterson, Attorney General, Mr. Charles L. Strouss, Assistant Attorney General, Mr. W. E. Patterson, former County Attorney, and Mr. F. E. Flynn, County Attorney, for Appellants and Cross-appellees

Messrs. Cornick & Crable, Messrs. Rice & Mathews, and Messrs. Douglas, Armitage & McCann, for Appellee and Cross-appellant.


Page 396

[39 Ariz. 137] LOCKWOOD, J.

United Verde Extension Mining Company, a corporation, hereinafter called appellee, is the owner of a valuable producing mine, situated [39 Ariz. 138] in Yavapai county. The state tax commission, hereinafter called appellant, fixed the value of appellee's mine for the purpose of taxation for the year 1929 at $14,812,440. Appellee protested this valuation to the state board of equalization, which board, after hearing, denied the protest, and appellee, being dissatisfied therewith, appealed from such order to the superior court of Yavapai county, in accordance with the provisions of section 3065, Revised Code of 1928, paying the tax on the assessment as made under protest. A hearing was had before the court sitting without a jury, and on July 19, 1930, a judgment was rendered fixing the value of the property in dispute at $5,710,000, and ordering the excess tax paid by appellee refunded, together with six per cent. interest from the date of judgment. The state tax commission has appealed from the entire judgment, while appellee has cross-appealed on the ground that it was entitled to interest on the tax refunded from the date it was paid instead of from the date of judgment only.

The first assignment of error is that the court erred in fixing the value of appellee's producing mine at $5,710,000, for two specific reasons: (1) That it based its judgment upon the theory that the witnesses Cole and Calkins figured a value of copper at 18.11 cents per pound for all produced during the year 1929, while the evidence shows that these witnesses figured the value of copper at 17.51 cents during said period; and (2) that in determining the valuation of the mine it based its judgment on an average price of 15 cents per pound for copper over the time estimated for the exhaustion of the mine, and in so doing deducted from the valuation of $11,000,000 fixed by the witnesses Cole and Calkins the difference between the gross value of the total contents of the mine at a rate of 18.11 cents per pound for copper mined in 1929, and 16 cents per pound [39 Ariz. 139] for copper to be mined thereafter, and the gross value of the entire contents of the mine as of January 1, 1929, at 15 cents per pound, without reducing said difference to its present worth.

Were we to decide the case on a strict construction of this assignment of error, we would be compelled to hold without further consideration of the evidence that it was not well taken, for the reason that it is predicated solely on the assumed adoption by the trial court of certain parts of the evidence as the only basis for its judgment, while the court in rendering judgment expressly stated that, though it referred to the testimony of the witnesses Cole and Calkins in its memorandum opinion, the final judgment was in no sense dependent upon the testimony of such witnesses, but was based upon all the testimony in the case, including the opinions and conflicting estimates of all the witnesses and the documentary evidence. We think, however, that in fairness to both appellant and appellee, we should consider the assignment as being in effect that the evidence taken as a whole does not support the judgment, rather than limiting our consideration to the specific parts of the evidence referred to by appellant in its subdivisions of the assignment. We discuss, therefore, the broad question as to whether or not the trial court was justified on the evidence, taken as a whole, in determining the true value for taxation of appellee's producing mine for the year 1929 to be the figure set forth in the judgment.

In passing on an assignment of this nature, we must remember that the cardinal rule of this court, adhered to without exception for many years, is that, where the evidence is in conflict, we will not substitute our opinion thereof for that of the trial court. Morgan v. Krook, 36 Ariz. 133, 283 P. 287; Peters v. Taylor, 31 Ariz. 169, 251 P. 446; First Baptist [39 Ariz. 140] Church v. Connor, 30 Ariz. 234, 245 P. 932. And, if any reasonable evidence supporting such judgment appears in the record, the judgment will be sustained. Blackford v. Neaves, 23 Ariz. 501, 205 P. 587; Moeur v. Farm Builders Corp., 35 Ariz. 130, 274 P. 1043; Welker & Clifford v. Merrill, 32 Ariz. 90, 255 P. 991. It is further the rule that, where the amount of damages or the value of property or services is concerned, and a large number of witnesses fix varying sums as the proper estimate of the value of such damages, property or services, the trial court and jury are not bound to fix in the verdict or judgment the exact sum testified to by any one of the witnesses, especially when their conclusions are based upon a large number of factors, but may take part of the necessary factors from the testimony of one witness, and part from that of another, and a result anywhere between the highest and the lowest estimates which may be arrived at by using the various factors appearing in the testimony in any combination which is reasonable will be sustained by an appellate court. Adams v. Cohn, (Tex. Civ. App.) 28 S.W. 909; Houston, T. & L. Co. v. Hankins, (Tex. Civ. App.) 200 S.W. 237.

Section 3061, Revised Code of 1928, provides:

"The [tax] commission shall appraise and assess all patented and unpatented producing mines, within the state, and on or before the second Monday of July transmit to the several boards of supervisors the assessed valuation thereof."

Section 3068, which is the fundamental rule in Arizona applying to the valuation of all

Page 397

property, reads as ...

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