House Bill 272, which was referred to the Transportation Committee on April 18th, proposes to change the statute addressing the payment of costs by the Department of Transportation in a condemnation lawsuit. The fourth version of the bill would amend NC General Statute Sec. 113-136 to require interest on the judgment awarded to the landower to be paid from the date of taking (when the suit is filed) until the date the judgment is paid, rather than until the date of judgment. In theory, this would encourage the DOT to pay the judgment as soon as possible to avoid interest accruing.
The second change concerns the payment of attorney’s fees and other costs incurred by the landowners. Currently, costs and expenses are awarded to the landowner as part of the judgment only if the judgment is that the DOT cannot acquire the property by condemnation, or if the DOT abandons the proceeding. House Bill 272 would authorize the court to award expenses, including attorney’s fees, if “[t]he final judgment exceeds the amount of the initial deposit by twenty‑five percent (25%) or more.” The bill goes on to clarify that said fees “shall not exceed one‑third of the difference between the judgment award, plus interest, and the initial deposit.”
The bill’s primary sponsors are Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam (R, Dist. 37), Rep. Darren G. Jackson (D, Dist. 39), and Rep. Rob Bryan (R, Dist. 38).