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Northeast Conn. Econ. Alliance, Inc. v. ATC Partnership

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20881
Nos. Nos. SC 16245, 16246, 776 A.2d 1068/(Conn., 07/24/2001)

The court holds that a trial court erred in not evaluating evidence of environmental contamination and remediation costs related to a company's property that a regional economic alliance, acting for a town, took by eminent domain. The court first holds that excluding contamination evidence, as a matter of law, is likely to result in a fictional property value—a result that is inconsistent with the principles by which just compensation is calculated. Additionally, the company's arguments, which seek to exclude the evidence, improperly rely on fault allocation and liability. The admissibility of evidence of environmental contamination and remediation costs does not impose a fictional value on the property by virtue of the personal liabilities of the condemnee, specifically the potential liability under environmental statutes. Instead, it permits the trier to take into account the effect, if any, such contamination and remediation costs had on the property's fair market value on the date of the taking. The condemnation proceeding does not, however, adjudge the condemnee as the party responsible for the contamination or its cleanup. To exclude evidence of environmental contamination and remediation costs could result in the condemnee receiving an inflated and fictional value for the property. Therefore, the trial court's decision is reversed and the case is remanded. Dissenting judges disagree with the majority's valuation formula for the trial court to follow.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (30 pp., ELR Order No. L-385).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Richard S. Cody
Law Offices of Richard S. Cody
21 Main St., Stonington CT 06378
(860) 572-2042

Counsel for Defendant
Richard P. Weinstein
Weinstein & Wisser
29 S. Main St., W. Hartford CT 06107
(860) 561-2628