• Offer Testimony/Evidence
  • April 16, 2015 | Author: Elliott B. Pollack
  • Law Firm: Pullman & Comley, LLC - Hartford Office
  • In the winter edition of Property Tax and Valuation Topics, we wrote about the admissibility of offer evidence in property valuation cases. Offer evidence is information concerning a proposal to purchase or to sell the real property which is the subject of the the winter article was written, there was no Connecticut case on point. This gap was filled, to some degree, by the Connecticut Appellate Court on January 27, 2015.

    The Department of Transportation took a .44 acre parcel of commercial property in New Britain in order to reconstruct an adjacent roadway. $125,000 in damages was awarded for the taking; in the Superior Court appeal which followed, the award was increased to $243,840. One issue raised by the successful but unsatisfied property owner who appealed the award to the Appellate Court was the refusal of the trial judge to permit a physician to testify about a letter of intent he had signed to purchase the property for $850,000 - less than two years prior to the taking. The trial court precluded the physician would-be purchaser from testifying as an “expert” real estate investor. In a unanimous opinion, the Appellate Court held that it was proper for the trial judge to preclude the physician’s testimony because he was not a qualified real estate valuation expert. The Appellate Court also ruled that to the extent that the physician intended to offer his opinion as to the highest and best use of the property, his lack of real estate valuation expertise was a proper basis upon which to refuse to admit his testimony.

    In a parting comment, Judge Michael Sheldon, noted that the physician’s offer letter “was admitted into evidence as a full exhibit” and there was no showing that the court’s refusal to allow him to testify about his offer “impacted the outcome . . . .”

    While this decision is not an endorsement of trial court’s decision to allow the offer letter into evidence, it certainly does not amount to a rebuke of that ruling either.

    Department of Transportation v. Cheriha, LLC, et al, Connecticut Appellate Court, Docket number AC 36041 (January 27, 2015).