Charles Nauheim d/b/a Kansas Fire and Safety Equipment, and Hal G. Richardson d/b/a Bueno Food Brand, Topeka Vinyl Top, and Minuteman Solar Film, Appellants,
City of Topeka, Kansas, Appellee.
BY THE COURT
Statutory interpretation presents a question of law subject
to de novo review. When interpreting a statute, a court first
attempts to discern legislative intent through the statutory
language, giving common words their ordinary meanings.
Whenever federal funding is not involved, and real property
is acquired by any condemning authority, K.S.A. 2017 Supp.
26-518 identifies two distinct situations requiring the
authority to pay relocation benefits to a displaced person:
(a) when the acquisition occurs through negotiation in
advance of a condemnation action, or (b) when the acquisition
occurs through a condemnation action.
every acquisition of real property by a condemning authority
is covered by K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 26-518.
phrase "negotiation in advance of a condemnation
action" in K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 26-518 is both temporal and
contextual. To be entitled to relocation benefits, a
displaced person must show: (a) negotiation resulted in the
property's acquisition before any eminent domain
proceedings commenced; and (b) a condemnation would have
followed had that negotiation failed.
Whether a negotiation was in advance of a condemnation action
under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 26-518 is a question of fact to be
established by a preponderance of the evidence. A
preponderance of the evidence means evidence that shows a
fact is more probably true than not true.
finder of fact should consider any relevant evidence that
might reasonably bear on establishing whether a negotiation
was in advance of a condemnation action under K.S.A. 2017
Supp. 26-518. Evidence is relevant if it tends to establish a
material fact at issue.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 52 Kan.App.2d 969,
381 P.3d 508 (2016).
from Shawnee District Court; Richard D. Anderson, Judge.
R. Hamilton, of Hamilton, Laughlin, Barker, Johnson &
Jones, of Topeka, argued the cause, and David A. Brock, of
the same firm, was with him on the brief for appellants.
Starr, assistant city attorney, argued the cause and was on
the brief for appellee.
federal funding is not involved, and real property is
acquired by a condemning authority through negotiation in
advance of a condemnation action or through a condemnation
action, the authority must pay relocation benefits to any
person who moves from the property as a direct result of the
acquisition. K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 26-518(a) (condemning
authority's duties to displaced person in acquiring real
property); 42 U.S.C. § 4601(6)(A)(i)(I) (2012)
(definition of displaced person). This appeal seeks to define
what the statutory phrase "negotiation in advance of a
condemnation action" means. The dispute arises from a
claim by former tenants for relocation benefits after the
City of Topeka negotiated and acquired property where the
tenants operated their businesses.
the statute is both temporal and contextual, so it is a
question of fact whether a negotiation was in advance of a
condemnation action. We reject the tenants' contention
that displaced persons are owed relocation benefits anytime a
condemning authority acquires real property for a public
project. The statute is not that generous.
affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment although we see the
potential evidence that might prove such a claim more
expansively than the panel did. See Nauheim v. City of
Topeka, 52 Kan.App.2d 969, Syl. ¶ 5, 381 P.3d 508
(2016) ("[A] displaced person must prove that the
condemning authority either threatened or took affirmative
action towards condemnation prior to the acquisition.").
The case is remanded for the district court to ...