You may recall that we blogged about a rare trial court victory for property owners back on May 23, 2018.  Since then, that case has been to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, yet again. The most recent opinion from the Fourth District upheld the trial court’s jury verdict awarding the land owner $2,000,000, plus pre-judgment interest in the amount of $1,302,577.

Interestingly, the Fourth District Court of Appeal also upheld the trial court ruling that excluded Indian River County’s economist and appraiser. The Fourth District concluded that the trial court “properly excluded the economist’s and the appraiser’s testimony, in part, based upon the Bert Harris Act’s plain meaning.”

Significantly, the Fourth District also noted that the “County could have requested leave from the trial court to speak with its witnesses, or to inform them of the trial court’s ruling and determine if they could offer testimony in compliance therewith,” but the County did not do so.

Trial lawyers take note that appellate courts will hold what you do, and what you do not do, against you with regard to rulings on motions in limine.

Bottom line takeaway

For property owners, keep fighting the good fight. For local government, make sure your witnesses understand the language of the Bert Harris Act when preparing their testimony and adjust as necessary when the trial court rules.