Sitting for the court: Justice Paul W. Green, Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Justice Phil Johnson, Justice David Medina, Justice Dale Wainwright, Justice Don R. Willett, Justice Eva Guzman, Justice Debra Lehrmann
Enbridge Pipelines (East Texas) L.P. v. Avinger Timber, LLC
from Marion County and the Sixth District Court of Appeals, Texarkana
For petitioner: Stephen G. Tipps, Houston
For respondent: Glenn Sodd, Corsicana
The principal issues in this condemnation-valuation dispute involving land on which a gas-processing plant exists are (1) whether testimony by the landowner’s valuation expert violates the value-to-the-taker rule, that is, assessing the land value with the existing plant and easements instead of its value as rural residential property without those improvements and (2) whether the expert testimony violated the project-enhancement rule that precludes valuing for condemnation purposes the property as it has been enhanced. In this case Enbridge Pipelines took over an affiliate’s lease of Avinger Timber’s land used for the processing plant. When Avinger and Enbridge failed to agree on renewal terms, Enbridge, as a pipeline company with condemnation power, petitioned to take the land. In the valuation trial, the court denied the pipeline’s challenge to Avinger’s expert, who assessed value based on factors including the existing plant, the pipelines that connected to it and how much Enbridge would pay if the lease terminated and it had to remove the plant and other improvements. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to accept the Avinger expert’s testimony and reject Enbridge’s.
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Texas Supreme Court advisory
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