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City of Tucson v. Tanno

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

October 10, 2018

City of Tucson, a municipal corporation, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
Cheryl A. Tanno and the Estate of Pasquale J. Tanno, Defendants/Appellants.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County No. C20151377 The Honorable Catherine Woods, Judge

          Jennings, Strouss & Salmon P.L.C., Tucson By John J. Egbert and Danielle J.K. Constant Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee

          Stubbs & Schubart P.C., Tucson By Thomas M. Parsons Counsel for Defendants/Appellants

          Judge Eppich authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Vásquez and Judge Espinosa concurred.

          OPINION

          EPPICH, JUDGE

         ¶1 In this eminent domain case, Cheryl Tanno and the estate of Pasquale Tanno appeal from a final judgment awarding them $365, 910 in compensation for real property condemned by the City of Tucson. They argue the trial court committed error in making evidentiary determinations, refusing to tender certain jury instructions, and declining to award sanctions for a purported discovery violation. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         ¶2 In 2015, the City of Tucson filed an eminent domain complaint in superior court seeking to condemn a parcel of real property owned by the Tannos. The city sought to acquire the property for the development of the "Downtown Links," a proposed roadway project it asserted was for public use. In response, the Tannos requested a determination of the value of the condemned property and a jury trial.

         ¶3 After the conclusion of discovery, the city filed several motions in limine seeking to exclude portions of expert testimony disclosed by the Tannos, portions of Cheryl's testimony regarding the value of her property, and evidence relating to certain legal theories advanced by the Tannos. After conducting three hearings, the trial court granted the majority of the city's motions.

         ¶4 The case proceeded to a jury trial, where the sole issue was the value of the Tanno property. At trial, the court reaffirmed its prior evidentiary rulings, in some instances considering more evidence than was available at the time of its pretrial rulings. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Tannos, awarding them $365, 910 for the fair market value of the property. The trial court issued a final, appealable judgment based on the jury's verdict. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1).

         Eminent Domain

         ¶5 In Arizona, the state, a county, city, town, village, political subdivision, or person, may exercise the right of eminent domain to acquire property for public use. See A.R.S. § 12-1111. Pursuant to our constitution, however, a property owner is entitled to just compensation for land taken by eminent domain. Ariz. Const. art. II, § 17. "Just compensation is the amount of money necessary to put the property owner in as good a financial position as if the property had not been taken." City of Phoenix v. Wilson, 200 Ariz. 2, ¶ 8 (2001). Further, "[t]he value of land taken by eminent domain in Arizona is to be determined by the market value of the property: by what a willing buyer would pay for the property and what a willing seller would take." State ex rel. Ordway v. Buchanan, 154 Ariz. 159, 162 (1987). The market value of the property is set as of the day of the summons. A.R.S. § 12-1123(A).

         ¶6 The Tannos argue the trial court committed several errors that prevented them from receiving just compensation for their property. Their arguments largely stem from the court's decision not to admit certain evidence, which the Tannos contend would have shown the property's value. "A trial court has broad discretion in the admission of evidence, and we will not disturb its decision absent an abuse of that discretion and resulting prejudice." Crackel v. Allstate Ins. Co., 208 Ariz. 252, ¶ 59 (App. 2004). "To test whether a trial court has abused its discretion, we must determine not whether we might have so acted under the circumstances, but whether the lower court exceeded the bounds of reason by performing the challenged act." Toy v. Katz, 192 Ariz. 73, 83 (App. 1997). "It is well established law in Arizona that appellate courts will not disturb the exercise of discretion of the trial court if it is supported by any reasonable evidence." Peters v. M & O Constr., Inc., 119 Ariz. 34, 36 (App. 1978).

         Evidence of ...


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