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State Must Pay Millions More for Davis County Land

State Must Pay Millions More for Davis County Land

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Owners dissatisfied with the state's offer to buy 237 acres for a highway project took their case to a jury and reaped millions more.

In a lawsuit over the land's value, jurors last week ordered the state to pay $4.3 million to the Thalman family, trumping the Utah Department of Transportation's offer of $2.5 million.

"UDOT's offers are extremely low. I think juries realize they're low," the winning attorney, Rob Mansfield, said. "From a practical point of view, it might make UDOT realize settlement is more advisable than a jury trial."

Assistant Attorney General Randy Hunter called the verdict an "errant bullet." He said the state makes offers based on appraisals and is not trying to get land on the cheap.

"If a jury wants to give the taxpayers' money away, that is the jury's prerogative," he said. "But it's not UDOT's prerogative. UDOT has to respect the process and the appraisal it receives."

Hunter said 90 percent of property owners take the state's offers. UDOT doesn't make second offers. In the Thalman case, the land is in Woods Cross.

Another attorney, Miles Lebaron, said he's in a dispute over 20 acres on the border of Farmington and Centerville, land also needed for Legacy Highway.

He said his client, Micro Investments LLC, believes the land is worth $10 million. UDOT has offered $755,000.

"My client is going to go the full distance," Lebaron said, referring to a jury trial. "Part of that is just because UDOT, in our case, hasn't been willing to budge."

Court records show UDOT has filed more than 100 eminent domain cases in Davis County since 2000, the Standard-Examiner of Ogden reported.

------ Information from: Standard-Examiner,

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