City of Folly Beach v. Atlantic House Properties, Ltd., 24384

Decision Date17 October 1995
Docket NumberNo. 24384,24384
Citation467 S.E.2d 928,321 S.C. 241
PartiesCITY OF FOLLY BEACH, Appellant, v. ATLANTIC HOUSE PROPERTIES, LTD., Respondent. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Ben Peeples, of Peeples & Stringer, Charleston, for Appellant.

John D. Bradley, III, of Riesen Law Offices, Charleston; Thomas R. Goldstein, of Belk, Cobb, Chandler & Goldstein, Charleston, both for Respondent.

TOAL, Justice:

In this action arising out of a condemnation dispute, the City of Folly Beach appeals the trial court's awarding of attorneys' fees to the landowner. We reverse.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Pursuant to the South Carolina Eminent Domain Procedure Act, S.C.Code Ann. § 28-2-10 to -510 (1991), the City of Folly Beach ("Folly Beach") sought to condemn two lots owned by Atlantic House Properties ("Landowner"). Landowner asserted its right to a jury trial. The jury returned a verdict for Landowner in the amount of $250,000. That verdict was affirmed by this Court in City of Folly Beach v. Atlantic House Properties, Ltd., --- S.C. ----, 458 S.E.2d 426 (1995).

After the jury trial, Landowner petitioned for attorneys' fees under S.C.Code Ann. § 28-2-510 (1991). The trial court granted Landowner's petition. Folly Beach appeals, arguing that Landowner was not entitled to attorneys' fees under section 28-2-510.

LAW/ANALYSIS

S.C.Code Ann. § 28-2-510(B)(1) provides in pertinent part: "A landowner who prevails in the trial of a condemnation action, in addition to his compensation for the property may recover his reasonable litigation expenses...." The statute further states:

For the purpose of this section, "prevails" means that the compensation awarded (other than by settlement) for the property, exclusive of interest, is at least as close to the highest valuation of the property that is attested to at trial on behalf of the landowner as it is to the highest valuation of the property that is attested to at trial on behalf of the condemnor.

S.C.Code Ann. § 28-2-510(B)(2). Thus, a landowner "prevails" if the difference between the value he offers at trial and the compensation awarded him is less than or equal to the difference between the value the condemnor offers at trial and the compensation awarded landowner.

For example, in City of N. Charleston v. Claxton, 315 S.C. 56, 431 S.E.2d 610 (Ct.App.1993), the landowner attested at trial that his property was worth $90,000. The condemnor valued the property at $54,000. The jury awarded compensation of $79,500. The Court of Appeals held that the landowner had prevailed because his $90,000 valuation was closer to the $79,500 in compensation ultimately awarded than was the condemnor's valuation of $54,000 to the compensation.

In the present case, Landowner stipulated at trial that the value of its property was $642,500. Folly Beach testified that the value of the property was $31,000. The compensation awarded by the jury was $250,000. A simple application of section 28-2-510(B) yields the result that $250,000 is not at least as close to the highest valuation of the property that is attested to at trial on behalf of the landowner ($642,500) as it is to the highest valuation of the property that is attested to at trial on behalf of the condemnor ($31,000). Hence, Landowner does not "prevail" and would not be entitled to attorneys' fees.

Landowner contends, however, that Folly Beach's valuation of the property was zero, not $31,000, because Folly Beach's initial tender of payment was zero dollars. Citing historical/philosophical sources, Landowner asserts that because zero is not a number, but is a symbol representing "nothingness," Folly Beach, in fact, made no offer at all. Accordingly, any value attested to by Landowner would be closer to the compensation ultimately awarded than would Folly Beach's "non-offer." We reject Landowner's argument for two reasons. First,...

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4 cases
  • Bell v. State
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1996
    ... ... his wife Carrie and her daughter out of the house. On the night of the murders, Bell went to the ... ...
  • Seckinger v. Vessel Excalibur
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 24, 1998
    ...in § 29-5-10(b) is not applicable. Our holding is consistent with the recent condemnation case of City of Folly Beach v. Atlantic House Properties, Ltd., 321 S.C. 241, 467 S.E.2d 928 (1996). In Folly Beach our supreme court held the prevailing party was the party who had offered zero dollar......
  • SC Dept. of Transp. v. Richardson
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 1999
    ...value which a landowner "stipulated" at trial as the basis for determining the prevailing party. City of Folly Beach v. Atlantic House Properties, Ltd., 321 S.C. 241, 467 S.E.2d 928 (1996). The landowner's stipulation at trial as to the value of its property, however, was no different from ......
  • SOUTH CAROLINA DEPT. v. Thompson, 3705.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 8, 2003
    ...than the value asserted by SCDOT. 4. S.C.Code Ann. § 28-2-510(B)(1) (1991). 5. Id. § 28-2-510(B)(2) (emphasis added). 6. 321 S.C. 241, 243, 467 S.E.2d 928, 929 (1996). 7. In closing argument, SCDOT's counsel specifically brought up Thompson's prior deposition testimony in an attempt to disc......
1 books & journal articles
  • Eminent Domain and Attorneys' Fees in Georgia: a Growing State's Need for a New Fee-shifting Statute
    • United States
    • Georgia State University College of Law Georgia State Law Reviews No. 27-4, June 2011
    • Invalid date
    ...value that the City offered at trial ($31,000) and the awarded compensation ($250,000). City of Folly Beach v. Atl. House Props., Ltd., 467 S.E.2d 928, 929 (S.C. 1996). 194. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-16-119 (2002). "If the verdict of the jury, upon the trial, affirms the finding of the jury of i......

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