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City of Corona v. Liston Brick Company of Corona

August 14, 2012

CITY OF CORONA, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
LISTON BRICK COMPANY OF CORONA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. Gloria Trask, Judge. (Super.Ct.No. RIC432230)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richli J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Affirmed.

In this eminent domain proceeding, the City of Corona (the City) sought to acquire certain property owned by Liston Brick Company of Corona (Liston). The trial court ruled that all of Liston's evidence of valuation was inadmissible under Evidence Code section 822, subdivision (a). That subdivision provides that, in an eminent domain proceeding, six specified categories of evidence are "inadmissible . . . and shall not be taken into account as a basis for an opinion as to the value of property . . . ."

In this appeal, Liston contends that, even assuming its evidence was otherwise inadmissible under Evidence Code section 822, subdivision (a), it should have been allowed to use it in its cross-examination of the City's valuation expert. It relies on State of Cal. ex rel. State Pub. Wks. Bd. v. Stevenson (1970) 5 Cal.App.3d 60. We conclude, however, that Stevenson does not create a "cross-examination exception" to Evidence Code section 822, subdivision (a). At most, it merely allows a party to an eminent domain proceeding to impeach an expert with a prior inconsistent valuation by that expert. Liston did not offer any such prior inconsistent valuation. Hence, we will affirm.

I

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Liston owns approximately 10.75 acres of land at Cajalco Road and Temescal Canyon Road in Corona (the Liston property).

In 2005, the City filed this eminent domain proceeding against Liston*fn1 to acquire certain easements over certain portions of the Liston property. Specifically, the property that the City was seeking (the subject property) consisted of a storm drain easement, a landscape easement, slope easements, temporary construction easements, and a right of way, covering a total of approximately 1.45 acres. The taking was for the purpose of road widening and related improvements.

The City deposited $120,200 as probable compensation. In 2008, Liston withdrew the City's deposit, thus waiving any right to contest the taking. (See Code Civ. Proc., § 1255.260.)

Meanwhile, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) became interested in acquiring the Liston property for use in several transportation projects.

In February 2006, at the request of the RCTC, Robert Shea Perdue Real Estate Appraisal rendered an appraisal of the entire Liston property (the Perdue appraisal). It valued the Liston property at $20 per square foot.

In August 2006, the RCTC and Liston entered into a purchase and sale agreement (the RCTC agreement) for the remainder of the Liston property -- i.e., the Liston property minus the subject property. However, the RCTC agreement also gave the RCTC an option to buy the subject property, exercisable if the City failed to acquire the subject property in this action. The option set a price for the subject property of $21 per square foot.

Liston designated only one expert on valuation -- Craig Hall, a vice-president of Liston. Hall's opinion was ...


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