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Supreme Court Denies Property Owners' Attempt to Delay Condemnation

In Wagler et al. v. W. Boggs Sewer Dist., the Indiana Supreme Court ruled transfer of a condemnation suit. In the case, West Boggs Sewer District (the “Sewer District”) attempted to condemn land for various sewer easements in Daviess County. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Sewer District. The landowners appealed that decision, while also requesting a stay of the condemnation in the trial court. The trial court denied the request to stay the condemnation and granted the Sewer District’s request to take the property. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of the stay and appropriation order. The Sewer District appealed the appellate court’s grant of the stay and denial of the appropriation to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and denied the stay. The Waglers argued that the District did not have the power to condemn property; that the District did not provide a good faith offer; and that the trial court improperly consolidated the condemnation cases. The District first sent a letter to the property owners asking that the property be donated, and subsequently sent the offer sheet that is required for condemnation by statute. The Waglers argued that this was not a good-faith offer, as is required by statute, because the District tried to have the property donated. The Supreme Court rejected this argument.

The Supreme Court also held that a sewer district does have the power to condemn property, and that the cases were properly consolidated at the trial court. Utilities are free to send requests to property owners asking that the land be donated, if followed by a good-faith offer tendered on the required form.



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