Spring Valley sued for misuse of eminent domain; hit for $700K in damages

By Joel Grossbarth

The ReUse People Specials
                                                              Photo credit: Wiki commons

The hits just keep on coming against the Village of Spring Valley. An appeals court in Brooklyn has ordered the Village of Spring Valley to pay a total of $702,505 based upon condemnation of property interests owned by Little Angel Day Care Center, Inc.

When the Village decided to condemn the property where Little Angel Day Care Center was located on Main Street, it originally decided that the value of certain trade fixtures taken as a result of a condemnation was worth only $90,960. The day care center objected to the Village’s evaluation and formally asked a State Supreme Court Judge in Rockland Supreme Court to hear evidence about the true value of the property taken.

Following a lengthy trial, the Supreme Court awarded the day care the sum of $469,114 as just compensation as a result of the condemnation. The Village paid the monies following trial. Thereafter, the day care center then sought an additional allowance pursuant to New York State Eminent Domain Law. The law states that in instances where the order or award is substantially in excess of the amount of the proof and where deemed necessary by the court to achieve just and adequate compensation, the court may award to the condemnee an additional amount, separately computed and stated, for actual and necessary costs, disbursements and expenses, including reasonable attorney, appraiser and engineer fees actually incurred by such condemnee.      

The appeals court found that the Supreme Court’s award of $469,114 was far in excess of the approximately $90,000 originally offered by the Village. Accordingly, the court ordered the Village to pay the additional sum of $233,391.46 as reimbursement for the actual expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by Little Angel Day Care Center, Inc. The court held that the additional fees were necessary in light of the Village’s under-evaluation of the fixtures taken and the effort required to establish the inadequacies of the Village’s initial offer.

This is the second recent large award that a Rockland municipality was ordered to pay after under evaluating property as a result of condemnation proceedings. In October, 2018, the Village of Haverstraw was ordered to pay almost $8 million to a property owner when they grossly under-evaluated a property owners interests during an eminent domain proceeding.