from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann
M. Lekar, Judge.
appeals the district court's ruling on taxation of costs
following a condemnation action by the City of Cedar Falls.
Kelly Keady of Biersdorf & Associates, P.C., Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for appellant.
E. Brownell of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Des Moines, for
by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Mahan, S.J.,
* but decided by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Mahan, S.J.,
* and Vogel, S.J. [*]
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
City of Cedar Falls condemned property owned by JLL LLC.
See Iowa Code § 6A.4(6) (2016) (authorizing
cities to take private property for public use). Following a
hearing, a compensation commission assessed damages of $527,
197. See id. §§ 6B.4, 6B.14, 6B.17.
appealed the appraisement of damages to the district court.
See id. § 6B.18(1). A jury awarded JLL $630,
000. See id. § 6B.21.
filed an application for $147, 690 in attorney fees and $78,
999.67 in costs. See id. § 6B.33. Following a
hearing, the district court awarded (1) attorney fees of
$141, 345; (2) $15, 000 for the cost of an appraisal; and (3)
statutory expert witness fees of $150 for each of three
experts. JLL appealed.
does not challenge the attorney fee award. The company
focuses on the district court's denial of its requests
for additional litigation-related expenses. In its view,
statutory language obligates cities to make property owners
Code section 6B.33 does indeed require an acquiring agency to
"pay all costs occasioned by the appeal." But
"costs" do not include all litigation expenses, as
JLL contends. See City of Riverdale v.
Diercks, 806 N.W.2d 643, 660 (Iowa 2011) ("We
have construed 'all costs' language in other
fee-shifting statutes to limit reimbursement for litigation
expenses to those allowed as taxable court costs."
(citing Iowa Dep't of Transp. v.
Soward, 650 N.W.2d 569, 572 (Iowa 2002))); City
of Ottumwa v. Taylor, 102 N.W.2d 376, 378 (Iowa
1960) ("We disagree with defendant's view that
'all costs occasioned by the appeal' as used in [the
predecessor to section 6B.33] includes all expenses
reasonably necessary in preparation and trial of the
down JLL's requests for litigation-related expenses, we
begin with its request for appraisal fees, an issue we are
persuaded was preserved for review. Section 6B.33 authorizes
payment of "the reasonable cost incurred by the property
owner for one appraisal." JLL requested $51, 000 for its
appraiser's "written/oral appraisal report ($43,
000) plus the additional $8000 review appraisal of [the
City's] appraisal." The $43, 000 figure included
$13, 000 to cover charges for the appraiser's trial
testimony and $5000 to cover "rent loss analysis and
district court found (1) the $13, 000 sum was in fact a
request for an "expert witness" fee not covered by
section 6B.33; (2) "the rent income issue . . . [was]
inadmissible" at trial, foreclosing taxation of the
$5000 sum as costs; and (3) the "review service"
costing $8000 "added little to [the] original report and
[was] as disproportional in its amount as the original
appraisal report." The court concluded $15, 000 would be
"a more than reasonable allocation" for the
discern no error in the district court's interpretation
of section 6B.33 as excluding the $13, 000 cost of the
appraiser's trial testimony. See Taylor, 102
N.W.2d at 377, 379 (reversing allowance of fees for
"each of two expert appraisers in preparing to testify
and testifying upon the appeal"). And we conclude the
district court did not err or abuse its discretion in
declining to award the $5000 cost of preparing an
inadmissible rental loss evaluation and the $8000 cost of
reviewing and rebutting the City's appraisal report.
See Goodwin v. Iowa State Highway Comm'n, 369
N.W.2d 816, 819 (Iowa 1985) (reviewing assessment of costs,
damages, and attorney fees under what is now Iowa Code
section 6B.34 for substantial evidence and abuse of
discretion); cf. Shea v. Lorenz, No. 16-0496, 2017
WL 4844504, at *8 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2017) (reviewing
assessment of litigation ...