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Judge rules against levee district, La. DOTD
from The Concordia Sentinel
June 1, 2017 - ListenUpYall.com

Seventh Judicial District Judge John Reeves has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the Fifth District Levee District and the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD).

Reeves ruled that the plaintiffs are due $1,397,500 from the levee district, less $335,287 the district had previously placed in escrow.

James Biglane and Charlotte Biglane Nobile are the plaintiffs.

The property in question is located south of Vidalia.

The levee district had previously placed into escrow $335,287, the amount it offered the Biglanes for about 82 acres of land – 17.72 acres on the land side and 65 acres between levee and the river.

Questions regarding the history of the land, battures, bar pits, servitudes and other legal matters are being litigated.

Reeves dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit against DOTD “with prejudice,” but ruled against the levee district and awarded “just compensation for the land taken by the Fifth Louisiana Levee District in the amount of: $1,397,500.00 (representing the fair market value of the land taken in 2008) subject to a credit of $335.287 which was paid on June 25. 2013.”

The judge denied a request by the plaintiffs for $78,008.50 in interest “representing legal interest on the $335.287 already paid from July 9, 2008 until payment on June 25, 2013.”

However, Reeves ordered that interest continue “to accrue on the remaining $1,062,213 at the applicable Louisiana legal rates from July 2, 2009 (date of filing suit) until paid.”

In the suit, the plaintiffs noted that they co-owned “approximately 3,000 acres … known as Scotland and St. Genevieve Plantations … Prior to the taking, a small levee existed on the property; however, Plaintiffs exercised all aspects of ownership relating to their Property on both sides of the levee.”

The levee board and DOTD maintained that the compensation offered was based on appraisals and fair market value. While the Corps of Engineers builds the levees, the state pays for use of the land.

The lawsuit sought “just compensation and damages resulting from Defendants’ unauthorized entrance upon and damage to Plaintiffs’ property,” and claims that neither the levee district nor DOTD has a recorded servitude or right-of-way on the property.

The plaintiffs also sought “just and fair compensation including, without limitation, just compensation for (a) the property taken, including the excavated materials, (b) the construction servitudes taken; (c) the severance damages caused by the diminution in value to the remainder of the Property; and (d) the economic losses caused by all of the above.”

Additionally, plaintiffs sought compensation sufficient for their claimed losses, interest and legal fees.

Randall Smith, Tiffany Hawkins, and Mary Nell Bennett serve as counsel for the plaintiffs, while Madeline Gibbs and Johnnie Crigler serves as counsel for the Fifth Louisiana Levee District.

Patrick McIntire is counsel for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).



 
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