Callejo v. Brazos Elec. Power Coop., Inc

In Callejo v. Brazos Elec. Power Coop., Inc., 755 S.W.2d 73 (Tex. 1988), the landowner's experts valued a condemned parcel at somewhere between $ 643,987.20 and $ 729,256.00 before the taking, and at zero after the taking. Id. at 74. The utility's experts valued the land at $ 67,082.00 before the taking, and at $ 33,541.00 after the taking. Id. The jury in Callejo made separate findings as to the land's pre-taking and post-taking value. The jury found the land's pre-taking value to be $ 456,161.00, and its post-taking value to be $ 364,928.80. Id. The trial court then determined that there was no evidence to support the jury's post-taking finding of $ 364,928.80, disregarded the finding, and substituted it with the highest post-taking value in evidence, $ 33,541.00. Id. The trial court then rendered judgment in favor of the landowner in the amount of $ 422,620.00, the difference between the jury's finding for pre-taking value and $ 33,541.00. Id. The court of appeals reversed the trial court's judgment; however, the supreme court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court's judgment. Id. at 74-76. In Callejo, the utility argued the jury could blend all the evidence--including testimony on pre-taking value--in making its finding on post-taking value. Id. at 75. The supreme court rejected this argument, holding that under the evidence presented, the trial court properly disregarded the jury's answer on post-taking value. Id. The supreme court stated, "We do agree that jurors are not bound, as a matter of law, to accept the parties' expert testimony. But, that does not authorize jurors to leap entirely outside of the evidence in answering any question submitted to them." Id. The supreme court further warned in Callejo that future condemnation cases should be submitted broadly in terms of the difference in market value of the land immediately before and immediately after the taking. Id. at 76. The supreme court concluded its opinion by stating, "Had this case been so submitted, doubtless we would have had no appeal to review." Id.