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Board of Regents of the University and State Colleges of Ariz. v. Cannon

Supreme Court of Arizona

July 10, 1959

BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY AND STATE COLLEGES OF ARIZONA, a body corporate, Appellant,
v.
Eva D. CANNON, Appellee.

Page 208

[86 Ariz. 177] Robert Morrison, Atty. Gen., Charles L. Hardy, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellant.

Jennings, Strouss, Salmon & Trask, and Roderic M. Jennings, Phoenix, for appellee.

LOCKWOOD, Superior Court Judge.

This is an appeal by the Board of Regents of the University and State Colleges of Arizona, hereafter called plaintiff, from a verdict and judgment in the amount of $18,000 in favor of Eva D. Cannon, hereafter called defendant, in a condemnation action to acquire her real property for use of Arizona State College at Tempe (now Arizona State University).

There are two assignments of error as follows: (1) that the court erred in denying the motions to strike the testimony of the defendant and the witnesses Casebere and Wake as to the value of the property and to instruct the jury to disregard their testimony, for the reason that the cross-examination of the witnesses established that their opinions were not based upon a sound factual basis and were therefore not competent as opinion evidence, and (2) that the court erred in denying appellant's motion for a new trial on the basis that the verdict of the jury and the judgment of the court were not justified by the evidence and were contrary to law, for the reason that there was no substantial evidence to support the verdict of $18,000 or the judgment entered in accordance therewith.

The actual issue on appeal, therefore, is whether or not the trial court erred in permitting the testimony of these three witnesses as to the value of the property in question to go to the jury for its consideration.

Counsel for the plaintiff urges certain propositions of law in support of their assignment of error, all of which in effect go to the competency of the testimony of the defendant and her witnesses Casebere and Wake, which may be summarized as follows:

1. An expert witness' opinion as to market value of real property is not competent unless he possesses a general knowledge of the values of other property in the neighborhood.

2. A general knowledge of real estate values, without familiarity of market prices of similar property in the same neighborhood as property whose market value is in question, is not sufficient to constitute competent

Page 209

opinion evidence by a real estate agent or broker.

3. In condemnation proceedings, a witness' opinion as to property value not supported[86 Ariz. 178] by facts, but based upon sheer speculation, is not competent.

4. The opinion of a witness permitted to testify as an expert is not substantial evidence unless the witness can give a satisfactory explanation of how he arrived at his opinion.

5. A verdict not supported by substantial evidence cannot stand.

The third and fifth propositions are correct statements of the law. The fourth is a correct statement, except as applied to the owner of the property in question, for it is well established law that an owner of property is always competent to testify as to its value. Los Angeles City High School District, etc., v. Rodriguez, 135 Cal.App.2d 760, 287 P.2d 871; Cruce v. Stein, 146 Cal.App.2d 688, 304 P.2d 118; Taylor v. State Highway Commission, 182 Kan. 397, 320 P.2d 832. Any explanation of how he arrived at that value merely goes to the weight of his evidence.

We shall therefore consider the validity of the first and second propositions of law urged by ...


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