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Neighbor v. Westar Energy, Inc.

Supreme Court of Kansas

May 8, 2015

DAVID H. NEIGHBOR, Appellant,
v.
WESTAR ENERGY, INC., Appellee

Appeal from Johnson District Court; GERALD T. ELLIOTT, judge.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. Appellate courts exercise unlimited review over questions of statutory interpretation.

2. When interpreting a statute, the fundamental rule to which all other rules are subordinate is that the intent of the legislature governs if that intent can be ascertained. When language is plain and unambiguous, there is no need to resort to statutory construction. An appellate court merely interprets the language as it appears; it is not free to speculate and cannot read into the statute language not readily found there. Statutory language is an appellate court's paramount consideration because the best and only safe rule for ascertaining the intention of the makers of any written law is to abide by the language they have used.

3. Even if the language of the statute is unambiguous, an appellate court may still consider various provisions of an act in pari materia with a view of reconciling and bringing those provisions into workable harmony.

4. Under the language of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 26-508, a party appealing the appraisers' award to the district court in an eminent domain proceeding is entitled to rely on Kansas' saving statute, K.S.A. 60-518.

5. The Kansas Code of Civil Procedure applies in an eminent domain appeal under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 26-508 unless the Chapter 60 provision at issue contradicts a more specific provision in the Eminent Domain Procedure Act, K.S.A. 26-501 et seq.

Thomas E. Hammond, II, of Gates, Shields & Ferguson, P.A., of Overland Park, argued the cause, and Eldon J. Shields, of the same firm, was with him on the brief for appellant.

Michael S. Heptig, of Sloan, Eisenbarth, Glassman, McEntire & Jarboe, LLC, of Topeka, argued the cause, and Vernon L. Jarboe, of the same firm, was with him on the brief for appellee.

NUSS, C.J. BILES, J., not participating. MICHAEL J. MALONE, Senior Judge, assigned.[1]

OPINION

Page 470

[301 Kan. 917] Nuss, C.J.:

This case requires us to determine whether the Kansas saving statute applies to appeals from appraisers' awards in eminent domain proceedings. Landowner David Neighbor timely filed his appeal under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 26-508, and the district court later granted his motion to dismiss it without prejudice. About 5 months later Neighbor appealed again, relying upon K.S.A. 60-518 to save the appeal from an otherwise untimely filing frailty. The district court ruled the saving statute does not apply in an eminent domain appeal. So the court declared Neighbor's second appeal untimely and dismissed it with prejudice.

We disagree with the district court. K.S.A. 2014 Supp. ...


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