Dear v. Madison County By and Through Madison County Bd. of Sup'rs, 91-CA-0627

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation649 So.2d 1260
Docket NumberNo. 91-CA-0627,91-CA-0627
PartiesAlice Pike DEAR, Sandra Stout Lee, Diane Stout Bruce, Susan Stout Hinton and Otha Bruner Bruce, Jr. v. MADISON COUNTY, Mississippi acting By and Through The MADISON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, and The City of Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Decision Date26 January 1995

Page 1260

649 So.2d 1260
63 USLW 2496
Alice Pike DEAR, Sandra Stout Lee, Diane Stout Bruce, Susan
Stout Hinton and Otha Bruner Bruce, Jr.
MADISON COUNTY, Mississippi acting By and Through The
of Ridgeland, Mississippi.
No. 91-CA-0627.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Jan. 26, 1995.

Stephen W. Rimmer, Rimmer Rawlings Harrison MacInnis & Hedglin, John F. Simon, Jr., Young Scanlon & Sessums, Jackson, for appellant.

James H. Gabriel, Pyle Dreher Mills & Dye, Jackson, G. Dewey Hembree, III, Montgomery Smith-Vaniz & McGraw, Canton, for appellee.

Before HAWKINS, C.J., and JAMES L. ROBERTS, Jr. and SMITH, JJ.

HAWKINS, Chief Justice, for the Court:

In November of 1990 Madison County and the City of Ridgeland brought this action for

Page 1261

the condemnation of lands of the Appellants for the construction of a roadway. The construction was to be financed by a special assessment upon landowners abutting the new road, and the Appellants sought to offer evidence of the impact of the special assessment upon the value of the property subsequent to the taking. By Motion in Limine the county and city sought to exclude such evidence; the trial court granted the motion. The landowners have brought this appeal assigning the exclusion of the evidence as to the special assessment as the only error.

Finding that the evidence was properly excluded, we affirm.


This action grows out of a project of Madison County and the City of Ridgeland for the construction of the Summertree Parkway running from State Highway 463 to Hanging Moss Road at I-220. During consideration of the project, it was determined that it would be financed by way of a special assessment upon abutting landowners. Enabling legislation was sought and obtained, adopted by the Mississippi Legislature as Senate Bill No. 3036 and signed by the Governor on March 31, 1989. Through this action, filed on November 20, 1991, in the Special Court of Eminent Domain of Madison County, Mississippi, the county and the city sought to condemn approximately 73,772 square feet of the Appellants property for the project, leaving them with lands fronting on the new parkway. The Statement of Values filed by the landowners included the consideration of the special assessment authorized by Senate Bill 3036. During the trial, the county and city filed their Motion in Limine asking the Court to exclude evidence and testimony regarding the special assessment as damages to the remainder of the Appellants' property after the taking. Upon hearing, the trial judge granted the motion, and a profert was made by way of the affidavit of the landowners' expert witness with his appraisal attached. The result was the reduction of the appraisers' estimate of damage to the remainder part of the landowners' property by $135,250. At the conclusion of the trial, judgment was entered for the landowners in the amount of $45,500.


The fundamental law governing the taking of lands under eminent domain in Mississippi is Article 3, Sec. 17 of the Mississippi Constitution which mandates that "private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use, except on due compensation being first made to the owner or owners thereof...." In determining what constitutes due compensation this Court has taken an expansive view as to damages to the portion of a tract not taken. Dykes v. State Highway Commission of Mississippi, 535 So.2d 1349 (Miss.1988), and State Highway Commission of Mississippi v. Havard, 508 So.2d 1099 (Miss.1987). However, the question of whether increased taxes by way of a special assessment upon abutting lands including those of the condemnee for financing a public works project constitute elements of due compensation is one of first impression in Mississippi.

Neither the constitutional mandate nor the previous decisions of this Court direct that all economic events and governmental action surrounding a project should be deemed damages or factors of the compensation due the party from whom property is taken. Under most circumstances the decline in the value of a business located upon the condemnee's remaining property is not a proper element of damages. Potters II v. State Highway Commission of Mississippi, 608 So.2d 1227 (Miss.1992). The Court recognized that our law had not yet defined all the limits saying:

Notwithstanding [the constitutional provision] we have never held compensable every diminution of value. Zoning laws and the authority to place public projects are familiar sources. "Many exchangeable values may be destroyed intentionally without compensation". Nor have we settled where the line ought be drawn. For the moment, takings are delimited by law which may or may not include all values--matters of fact. Value is the measure of due compensation attendant upon a taking or damage previously and independently

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defined by law. In a given case, subject to legal parameters, what is taken is a function of the complaint filed by the condemning authority. And the same of what damage is compensable.

Potters II at 1230-1231 (citations and footnote omitted).

Certainly, constitutional history does not force the conclusion that the governing authority is obligated to compensate citizens for the economic impact of every action it takes; on the contrary, government has powers that do not carry with them the duty to compensate, as is attendant to eminent domain, which extend beyond the zoning authority mentioned in Potters II. These include the authority to relocate roads and highways, Wheeler v. State Highway Commission of Mississippi, 212 Miss. 606, 55 So.2d 225 (1951), and the exercise of its police powers through the regulation of traffic control and designation of access, Muse v. Mississippi State Highway Commission, 233 Miss. 694, 103 So.2d 839 (1958). Likewise, the power to tax has long been held to be independent of the eminent domain power and carries with it no duty to compensate. Swayne v. City of Hattiesburg, 147 Miss. 244, 111 So. 818 (1927), aff'd per curiam, 276 U.S. 599, 48 S.Ct. 320, 72 L.Ed. 724 (1928); Union Savings Bank and Trust Company v. City of Jackson, 122 Miss 557, 84 So. 388 (1920).

In both Swayne and Union Savings the taxpayers challenged special assessments to abutting landowners for new street construction arguing that such was a taking of property without just compensation and therefore in violation of the state and federal constitutions. In the Swayne case the taxpayer acknowledged that the notice, hearing and other procedures employed by the city in the adoption of the assessment were in compliance with the appropriate statute, 1 but she argued that since the amount of the assessment far exceeded any...

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3 cases
  • Mathis v. City of Greenville, 97-CA-00514 COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • December 18, 1998
    ...additionally persuaded by the Mississippi Supreme Court's holding in Dear v. Madison County By and Through Madison County Bd. of Sup'rs, 649 So.2d 1260 (Miss.1995). In Dear, condemnation proceedings were begun and the landowner 724 So.2d 1115 sought to introduce evidence regarding the impac......
  • Sturdivant v. Coahoma Cnty., 2019-CA-00741-COA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • September 15, 2020
    ...held that every diminution of value to property is compensable. Dear v. Madison Cnty. By & Through Madison Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors , 649 So. 2d 1260, 1261 (Miss. 1995). Therefore, her property was not taken for public use. ¶22. Even if the damaged water line could be constituted as a "taki......
  • Walters v. City of Greenville, 1998-CC-01243-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • November 16, 1999
    ...compensation being first made to the owner or owners thereof....'" Dear v. Madison County Through the Madison County Bd. of Supervisors, 649 So.2d 1260, 1261 ¶ 22. In the present case, Walters's private property is not being taken or damaged for public use, nor does the simple change in zon......

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