Utah Court of Appeals
2014 UT App 30 (Click for Full Text of Opinion)
February 6, 2014
In a condemnation proceeding which has lingered for over 20 years, the Utah Court of Appeals agreed that the property owner may not amend its original answer to include a new claim that more property was being taken than was identified in the original complaint.
UDOT initiated this action in 1992, condemning property to widen Wasatch Boulevard. UDOT took immediate occupancy and completed the project several years ago, but the amount of compensation for the property was not resolved. In 2011, an appraisal raised the issue that the actual width and ownership of Wasatch Boulevard had not been completely established in 1992. Evidently, the road was never officially condemned, but was established by prescriptive use, and the total width of the right-of-way was disputed.
Beginning in 2011, the property owners argued that the original complaint was in error, because UDOT was acquiring more property than was described in the 1992 action. The owners petitioned to amend their answer to include a claim for additional compensation for the property within the roadway (to which they claimed ownership under the prescriptive use statute). UDOT argued that it was too late to amend the answer.
The Court of Appeals held that the owners could not amend their answer after such a long time. The Utah Rules of Civil Procedure prohibit an amendment that raises a new claim for compensation after a long period. The Court indicated that the owners may have grounds for a separate action against UDOT, but declined to comment further on that possibility.