Session October 5, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 09C-3638
Kelvin D. Jones, Judge
condemnation case, a jury trial was held concerning the
amount of compensation owed to Appellant as a result of the
governmental taking of its property. The jury returned a
verdict finding that the fair market value of the property
had been over $2, 000, 000.00 on the date of the taking, and
the trial court entered judgment on the verdict. Although
Appellant now appeals raising several issues, we affirm the
trial court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Timothy L. Warnock and Timothy Harvey, Nashville, Tennessee,
and Rita M. Aliss Powers, James D. Masterman and Gregory E.
Ostfeld, Chicago, Illinois for the appellant, Nashville
Downtown Platinum, LLC.
Brian Jackson, David L. Johnson and Renard A. Hirsch, Sr.,
Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan
Development and Housing Agency.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Thomas R. Frierson, II,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2007, the Appellant Nashville Downtown Platinum, LLC
("Platinum") purchased real property ("the
Property") in downtown Nashville for $1, 400, 000.00.
Although the Property was being used as a surface parking lot
at the time of Platinum's purchase, Platinum claimed to
have plans to build a hotel on the Property. Such plans never
came to fruition.
October 16, 2009, the Metropolitan Development and Housing
Agency ("MDHA") filed a petition in the Davidson
County Circuit Court to condemn Platinum's property in
order to develop the Nashville Music City Center. In
connection with its petition for condemnation, MDHA deposited
the sum of $1, 774, 300.00 as an estimate of the just
compensation that would be owed. In a subsequently-filed
answer, Platinum denied that the amount deposited by MDHA
represented just compensation for the proposed taking.
Platinum prayed that the petition for condemnation be
dismissed, or in the alternative, that a jury of view be
empaneled to determine the amount of compensation owed.
agreed order entered on February 2, 2010, MDHA was granted
exclusive possession of the Property effective January 29,
2010. At the time of the taking, the Property was zoned
"CF, " a category that imposed a height restriction
of approximately seven stories for buildings. However, it is
undisputed that it was widely known at the time of the taking
that a change from "CF" zoning to "DTC"
zoning was imminent. Under "DTC" zoning, buildings
can be at least 30 stories tall. Although the trial
court's February 2, 2010 taking order authorized the
clerk to disburse to Platinum the deposit that had been
tendered by MDHA, the order further provided that the
disbursement of the deposit was "without prejudice to
Platinum's claim for additional just compensation."
MDHA's taking of the Property, the parties filed a joint
motion for a writ of inquiry, and a jury of view was
subsequently appointed to assess the amount of compensation
owed to Platinum. After hearing testimony and evidence from
both parties, the jury of view ultimately determined that the
amount due to Platinum was $2, 306, 590.00. Although Platinum
filed objections to the report of the jury of view, the trial
court confirmed the report by order entered on January 26,
the trial court's confirmation of the jury of view's
report, Platinum filed an appeal requesting a de
novo jury trial pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated
section 29-16-118. A number of pre-trial matters soon ensued,
including the filing of several motions in limine. After
these pre-trial matters were resolved, a trial was held over
the course of several dates in August 2016. Upon the
conclusion of the trial proceedings, the jury returned a
verdict finding that the value of the Property was $2, 032,
380.00 at the time of the taking.
trial court entered judgment on the jury's verdict on
September 9, 2016. Platinum subsequently filed a motion for a
new trial. The trial court denied this motion by order
entered on January 26, 2017. The trial court also granted
MDHA certain discretionary costs that had previously been
requested pursuant to Rule 54.04 of the Tennessee Rules of
Civil Procedure. The present appeal then followed.
overarching premise in this appeal is that the trial court
did not appropriately preserve its right to receive just
compensation for the taking of its land. In addition to
asserting a host of evidentiary issues, which we will
highlight in our discussion, Platinum raises the following
issues on appeal:
■ Whether the trial court erred in denying its motion
for a new trial.
■ Whether Tennessee's method for calculating just
compensation in eminent domain cases violates the
constitutions of the United States and Tennessee.
■ Whether the trial court erred by granting MDHA's
motion for discretionary costs.
appeal follows a jury trial. "When reviewing an appeal
from a jury trial, we will not set aside the jury's
findings of fact unless there is no material evidence to
support them." Watson v. Payne, 359 S.W.3d 166,
168 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2011) (citations omitted). We "will
not re-weigh the evidence, but will take the strongest view
possible of the evidence in favor of the prevailing
party." Id. Further, we will allow all
reasonable inferences to uphold the jury's verdict.
Id. If there is any material evidence to support the
jury's verdict, the verdict must be affirmed.
Crabtree Masonry Co., Inc. v. C & R Constr.,
Inc., 575 S.W.2d 4, 5 (Tenn. 1978) (citations omitted).
acting as a thirteenth juror incident to the filing of a
motion for a new trial, the trial court must independently
weigh the evidence and determine whether the jury's
verdict is supported by the evidence. Dickey v.
McCord, 63 S.W.3d 714, 718 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001)
(citation omitted). "If, after weighing the evidence,
the trial court is satisfied with the jury's verdict, the
court must approve the verdict." Id. (citation
omitted). On appeal, we presume that the trial court properly
performed its duty as the thirteenth juror when the trial
court approves the jury's verdict without comment.
Id. (citation omitted). When the trial court makes
comments regarding the verdict on the record, however, we
examine the comments in order to determine whether the trial
court properly reviewed the evidence and was satisfied or
dissatisfied with the verdict. Id. at 718-19
(citation omitted). We can reverse the trial court's
judgment and order a new trial "only when the record
contains statements that the trial court was dissatisfied
with or disapproved of the jury's verdict or when the
trial court absolved itself of or misconstrued its function
as the thirteenth juror." Id. at 719 (citation
appeal, we are presented with a number of challenges to the
trial court's evidentiary decisions. The admissibility of
evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court.
Newcomb v. Kohler Co., 222 S.W.3d 368, 385 (Tenn.
Ct. App. 2006) (citation omitted). As such, "we will not
overturn a trial court's decision to admit or exclude
evidence without finding a clear abuse of discretion on the
part of the trial judge." Id. (citation
have previously noted, this appeal requires us to consider a
number of evidentiary challenges. As gleaned from the
argument section of Platinum's brief, the following
specific issues are raised:
■ Whether the trial court erred in restricting the
cross-examination of MDHA's appraiser.
■ Whether the trial court erred in preventing
Platinum's hotel industry expert from testifying about
market trends post-taking.
■ Whether the trial court erred in preventing
Platinum's architect from presenting demonstrative