Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2017

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Court overturns nearly $400,000 judgment against Las Vegas

The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a $394,490 judgment against the city of Las Vegas that condemned land owned by the Cliff Shadows Professional Plaza for road construction.

The 5-2 decision overturns the ruling of District Judge Kathleen Delaney who said the money must be paid for a 40-foot-wide strip that runs along Cliff Shadows Parkway, near the intersection at Gowan Road, just north of Cheyenne Avenue.

A five-acre parcel was originally acquired from the federal government by Mary P. Tovey who then sold it to Cliff Shadows. In the original transfer there was a federal condition that allowed for a 33-foot right of way for roads and public utilities.

In its condemnation action, Las Vegas sought the 33 feet plus seven additional feet for roadway construction and sewage lines. Cliff Shadows maintained it was entitled to compensation for the full 40 feet which is south of Gowan Road.

In a pretrial partial summary judgment, Delaney ruled that the city had to pay full price for taking the property.

The Supreme Court, in the majority decision written by Justice Nancy Saitta, said the federal land pattern created a valid public easement of the 33-foot-wide section and the city did not have to pay.

The city agreed the seven-foot additional section was worth $61,876.

And Saitta said Cliff Shadows was not entitled to collect $47,700 in attorney fees.

Justices Mark Gibbons and Michael Cherry dissented, saying that "genuine issues of material fact remain as to the valuation of the whole Cliff Shadows property, which includes the 33-foot-wide right of way and the remaining 7-foot width of the strip of property."

Quoting from a prior court ruling they said the "state enjoys a rich history of protecting private property owners against government takings."

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