DOT sanctioned by Court in NC Map Act cases. In June of 2018 there was a two day hearing on why the DOT failed to comply with the court’s scheduling order to plat (survey), appraise before and after values, and deposit with the court the appraised damages. After hearing evidence, the court sanctioned the DOT by excluding the values of their appraisals not completed by the May 29, 2018 deadline, which amounts to approximately 150 appraisals/150 properties. This is a significant sanctions order.
In the order the court used the following language about the DOT’s failure to comply with its order: “reckless indifference, gross negligence and bad faith.” “No one at NCDOT sounded the alarm that delays were occurring. At the [sanctions] hearing, NCDOT primarily engaged in finger-pointing, both within and without the NCDOT organizational structure.” The order’s findings of fact included that the DOT has hired at least 7 law firms to represent the DOT in the Map Act cases, including the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.
The article in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly said the judge “took the DOT to the woodshed” and called it a “benchslap”.
The DOT previously appealed the court’s scheduling order back in November of 2016. In December of 2017, the Court of appeals ruled that the appeal was for delay and procrastination. This appeal is called Beroth III. In that order the North Carolina Court of Appeals commanded “[A]t this juncture, it is NCDOT that must follow the order of the trial court appealed herein and file plats or maps, without further delay, identifying the interests and areas taken to comply with N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 136-111 and with the clear mandates of this Court in Kirby i, and our Supreme Court in Kirby II.” Upon the publication of that order, the trial court reinstated its scheduling order on November 28. 2017 regarding 191 properties. The court gave the DOT a 6 month period to comply. The DOT failed to.
And in those few cases where it did appraise the properties, some of the DOT appraisers appraised the value of damages at $0 concerning 9 of the 40 deposits. Yes, $0 damages.
Hendrick Bryant Nerhood Sanders & Otis attorneys filed the sanctions motion against the DOT in early June of 2018.
The findings of fact in the order described no one at the DOT overseeing the plat, appraisal, and depositing process. There were no internal controls over how DOT would progress.
The sanctions order strikes and excludes any appraisals of the 191 properties done after May 28, 2018. Attorney fees were also awarded to the property owners’ attorneys for bringing the sanctions motion and hearing.
So how does this sanctions order affect the 150 property owners: At trial, the DOT appraisals and testimony of appraisal valuation of damages will be excluded from the trial.
The lawyers at Hendrick Bryant continue to zealously represent its statewide eminent domain clients.
Front page article about Sanctions:
Winston-Salem Journal article regarding the sanctions: Judge: N.C. Department of Transportation acted in ‘bad faith’ with property appraisals in beltway path
For a NC Eminent Domain attorney, call 336-723-7200