Lewis v. South Carolina State Highway Dept., 21748

Citation278 S.C. 170,293 S.E.2d 434
Decision Date30 June 1982
Docket NumberNo. 21748,21748
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
PartiesJohn H. LEWIS and Margaret J. Lewis, Respondents, v. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT, County of Greenwood, and City of Greenwood, Appellants.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Senior Asst. Atty. Gen. John P. Wilson, Columbia, and Charles & Charles, and Callison, Dorn & Thomason, Greenwood, for appellants.

Kenneth C. Porter, Greenville, for respondents.

NESS, Justice:

This is a condemnation case. The Board of Condemnation awarded respondent landowner $750.00 for the taking of approximately .24 acres of land by the South Carolina Highway Department. The Department appealed pursuant to § 57-5-500, Code of Laws of S. C. (1976) on the issue of the amount of the award. The jury awarded respondent $4,000 and the Department again appeals. We affirm.

First, appellant asserts it was error to allow the jury to consider damages done to two lots adjacent to the lot containing the condemned area. The trial court allowed the testimony based on respondent's contention that the three lots in fact constitute one unit parcel containing his residence and uses incidental thereto.

Generally, when the part of a particular tract of land is taken for public use, the owner is not entitled to compensation for damages to separate and independent parcels belonging to him. S. C. Highway Dept. v. Terrain, Inc., 267 S.C. 186, 227 S.E.2d 184 (1976). However, if the parcels are in reality one tract, damages to the entire tract are recoverable. Id. Factors generally to be considered when determining the unity of lands for the purpose of awarding damages are ownership, location and use.

In some instances the court can determine as a matter of law whether the lots are separate or not, "... but ordinarily it is a practical question to be decided by the jury ..." Nichols on Eminent Domain, 3rd Ed., § 14.31, p. 715. Where there is doubt as to use, contiguity, or ownership or where there is conflicting testimony, the court should submit the issues to the jury. S. C. Highway Dept. v. Terrain, Inc., supra.

The record here establishes that respondent's residence is located on the two adjacent lots and that respondent uses the lot containing the condemned .24 acres for gardening. The residence and garden areas here are separated by a private driveway or street.

At trial appellant argued the lots are separate and distinct, purchased at different times, and divided by a public road. Respondent testified that the three lots constitute one unit as his homestead even though divided by a private driveway. In light of the conflicting testimony, we hold the issues were properly submitted to the jury.

Next, appellant asserts the court erred in refusing to allow them to impeach respondent by an alleged prior inconsistent statement. In order to impeach, the party offering the testimony must show that the former testimony is accurate, and must prove its accuracy by legal, competent and proper proof. State v. Hicks, 261 S.C. 247, 199 S.E.2d 304 (1973); State v. Lee, 269 S.C. 421, 237 S.E.2d 768 (1977). Here, appellants failed to tender sufficient proof of any prior statement.

Next, appellant contends the trial court erred in refusing to strike all of respondent's testimony as to the value of his land since his opinion was not based on fair market value as legally defined.

Appellant cross-examined respondent extensively on his opinion as to the value of his land and the damages resulting from the condemnation (Tr. 22-34). From the beginning respondent stated he was not familiar with fair market prices, but that he knew his property and what it was worth to him. Even so, appellant continued to ask questions to ascertain respondent's opinion as to value and damages. Only after extensive cross-examination did appellant move to strike respondent's testimony in its...

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3 cases
  • Gauld v. O'Shaugnessy Realty Co.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • November 14, 2008
    ...see also Waites v. S.C. Windstorm & Hail Underwriting Assoc., 279 S.C. 362, 366, 307 S.E.2d 223, 225 (1983); Lewis v. S.C. State Hwy. Dep't, 278 S.C. 170, 173, 293 S.E.2d 434 (1982); Whisenant at id.; S.C. State Highway Dep't v. Wilson, 254 S.C. 360, 175 S.E.2d 391 (1970); Hawkins v. Greenw......
  • Hawkins v. Greenwood Development Corp.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • September 11, 1997
    ...a property owner is competent to present an opinion as to the property's value is well recognized. Lewis v. South Carolina State Highway Dept., 278 S.C. 170, 173, 293 S.E.2d 434, 436 (1982); Seaboard Coast Line R.R. v. Harrelson, 262 S.C. 43, 46, 202 S.E.2d 4, 5 (1974); Rogers v. Rogers, 28......
  • Arnold v. South Carolina Public Service Authority
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1987
    ...damages after a taking only if the parcels are united in ownership, physical proximity, and use. Lewis v. South Carolina State Highway Dep't, 278 S.C. 170, 293 S.E.2d 434 (1982); South Carolina State Highway Dep't v. Terrain, 267 S.C. 186, 227 S.E.2d 184 (1976). This same rule applies in de......

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