By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that a northern Idaho developer who made what the court calls “unreasonable and frivolous” claims in an appeal in an eminent domain fight will have to pay some of the state’s legal fees.

The Spokesman-Review reports ( the court made the ruling last week against developer H.J. Grathol Co.

The ruling directs the lower court to determine the state’s attorney fees and costs for the appeal portion of the case that must now by paid by the company.

“While a condemnee certainly has the right to challenge the reasonableness of a compensation offer made by a condemnor, any such challenge should be within the limits of reason,” Justice Jim Jones wrote. “Here, Grathol clearly exceeded those limits, treating the condemnation proceeding as a ride on the gravy train.”

Mary York, an attorney with Holland and Hart who represented the state, estimated attorney fees on the appeal likely will top $100,000.

“The unreasonableness of the positions taken by the other side . led to the amount of attorney fees that were incurred by the state, unnecessarily so, in our opinion,” York said.

The Idaho Transportation Department in 2010 acted to condemn 16 acres of the company’s property to improve Interstate 95, and a lower court set a value of $675,000. The company said the land was worth $3.6 million and appealed.

But the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the Kootenai County district court was correct in setting the value.

Alan Johnson, head of H.J. Grathol and vice president of parent company Hughes Investments, has previously said it was “completely unconstitutional” for the state to make a private company pay for a big legal bill generated by the state in an eminent domain case.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

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