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Norfolk, VA 23510
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THE CASES AND RESULTS DESCRIBED HEREIN ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF PAST RESULTS OBTAINED BY WALDO & LYLE, P.C. AND ITS ATTORNEYS. PAST CASE RESULTS DO NOT INDICATE OR GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS. ALL CASES ARE DISTINCT AND HAVE UNIQUE FACTS, CIRCUMSTANCES AND LEGAL QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED AND EVALUATED ON THEIR OWN MERIT.


Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner of Virginia v. Taco Bell of America, Inc., Fairfax Circuit Court

INITIAL OFFER: $1,496,550
JUST COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT: $2,300,000

As part of a road-widening project in the Merrifield area of Fairfax County, VDOT condemned a portion of the property owned by Taco Bell, at one of the busiest intersections in Northern Virginia. Because the new road ran through a part of the Taco Bell restaurant on the property, VDOT demolished the entire building. At the just compensation trial, Taco Bell presented evidence that the restaurant building contributed to the value of the property, and that items of restaurant equipment, including prep tables, deep fryers and other equipment necessary to operate the Taco Bell restaurant, were fixtures that contributed value to the property for which Taco Bell was entitled to receive just compensation. After permitting Taco Bell to present evidence as to the contributory value of fixtures, the Fairfax Circuit Court reversed itself and instructed the jury that it was not to award any compensation for fixtures.

After the jury returned its just compensation award, Taco Bell appealed, contending that the trial court had erred in removing the valuation of fixtures from the jury's consideration. The Supreme Court of Virginia granted the appeal and reversed the decision, remanding it for a new trial on just compensation. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the use of a three-factor test to determine whether an item of property is a fixture, with the intent of the owner being the paramount and controlling factor. Because the Fairfax Circuit Court had excluded this evidence despite testimony from Taco Bell's representative that Taco Bell intended the items to remain in its restaurant indefinitely, the Supreme Court ruled that this was legal error and that Taco Bell is entitled to a new just compensation trial.

Subsequent to Taco Bell’s victory on appeal, VDOT agreed to mediation and Waldo & Lyle assisted Taco Bell in resolving the matter on favorable terms.

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