Grand Prairie Insurance Lawyer Proving Claim

Here is how at least one Grand Prairie insurance lawyer would prove a claim related to property damage. By looking at the 2011, Texas Supreme Court case, Reid Road MUD No. 2 v. Speedy Stop Food Stores, Ltd.
In this case the Court addressed whether an employee of the corporate general partner of a limited partnership qualifies to testify about the fair market value of partnership property under either the Property Owner Rule or Texas Rule of Evidence 701.
Speedy Stop is a Texas limited partnership that owns and operates convenience stores in Texas. Reid Road MUD sought to acquire a waterline easement across land owned by Speedy Stop. The District and Speedy Stop were unable to agree on compensation for the easement, so the District initiated condemnation proceedings pursuant to Texas Property Code, Section 21.012(a).
Speedy Stop filed the affidavit of Carlton LaBeff. LaBeff is the vice president of C.L. Thomas, Inc., the corporate general partner of Speedy Stop. Speedy Stop timely identified LaBeff as a person with knowledge of relevant facts but did not designate him as an expert. In his affidavit LaBeff averred, among other matters, that he
(1) had been involved with the acquisition and sale of all Speedy Stop convenience stores since 1982;
(2) “for several years” had been in charge of all real estate acquisitions and sales for Speedy Stop;
(3) was responsible for dealing with easement issues at all Speedy Stop
convenience stores and fast food restaurants;
(4) maintained familiarity with realty values in Harris County through various means in order to fulfill his job duties;
(5) was aware of how a utility easement can affect the value of commercial property such as the tract
at issue; and
(6) was “making this affidavit on behalf of the owner, as the owner’s representative and as the owner.”

In the affidavit, LaBeff did not set out facts showing that he had personal knowledge of the Property, nor did he say that he had personal
knowledge of or familiarity with it. LaBeff did not give an opinion of the Property’s value before or after the easement was taken. Instead, he set out his conclusion that the easement reduced the fair market value of the Property by $62,000.
This Court held that the Property Owner Rule applied, i.e., Rule 701.
Speedy Stop argued that Rule 701 permits any person to testify regarding the value of real property so long as the witness is familiar with its value, and LaBeff was such a witness. This Court agreed that one key to admissibility of LaBeff’s affidavit under Rule 701 is his personal familiarity with both the property and its value. The Court further
believed that Rule 701 encompasses the Property Owner Rule, which is based on the presumption that a property owner is familiar with her property and its value. It did not address Rule 701 apart from the Property Owner Rule in depth, however, because
while LaBeff’s affidavit demonstrated his expertise in real estate matters and general familiarity with Speedy Stop’s property, it did not set out facts demonstrating that he was personally familiar with the Property and its fair market value, nor did it demonstrate that his opinion was not substantively based on his specialized knowledge, experience, training, and expertise.
What is important about this case as it relates to a person making a claim for damage to his own property is that it is not necessary to spend the money to hire an “expert” to prove the value of property. It is only necessary that the property owner be able to demonstrate a basis for rendering their opinion as to property value.

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