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O'Donnell v. State

370 A.2d 233 (1977)

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O'Donnell v. State

Rhode Island Supreme Court

370 A.2d 233 (1977)

Facts

O’Donnell (plaintiff) owned a 34.69-acre farm in Rhode Island. In addition to a home and garage, the farm consisted of a cement-block structure, several outbuildings, and a well. O’Donnell was a chemist that performed fertilizer research, and he used a portion of the land on his farm as turf plots dedicated to this research. O’Donnell spent years preparing these turf plots for experimentation, which he testified was necessary to remove the excess nitrogen from the soil. By 1967, the turf plots were ready for experimentation, and from 1967 to 1971, O’Donnell manufactured various organic fertilizer compounds in the farm’s cement-block structure and applied these compounds to the turf plots. For these four years, data was collected. In 1971, the Director of Public Works condemned 2.3 acres of O’Donnell’s farm for the development of a state highway. The condemnation area included the well and 75 percent of the turf plots. O’Donnell filed suit seeking just compensation for the condemnation. The trial court awarded O’Donnell $101,100 in damages based on the value of the turf plots when ripe for experimentation, as they were in 1967, and on its determination that the cement-block structure would no longer be suitable for use. Both parties appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kelleher, J.)

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