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      RS 19:8     


§8.  Trial with dispatch; judgment; appraisals; payment in court registry

A.(1)  Expropriation suits shall be tried by preference and shall be conducted with the greatest possible dispatch.  All issues shall be decided by the trial judge, except compensation when either party has demanded a trial by jury to determine compensation.

(2)  Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S. 19:5, if the defendant files a timely answer, exception, or other responsive pleading challenging any issue other than compensation, the court shall set the matter for hearing within thirty days after filing of the pleading and shall render a decision within five days after the case is submitted, which time periods may be extended for good cause shown.  If the court rules in favor of the expropriating authority, upon motion of either party, the trial on compensation shall be set within forty-five days thereafter, which time period may be extended for good cause shown.

(3)  Immediately after compensation has been determined, the plaintiff shall, upon motion of the defendant, present evidence as to the highest amount it offered the defendant for the property and severance damages, if any, prior to the trial on the merits.  After hearing evidence on the issue, the court shall determine the highest amount offered.  If the highest amount offered is less than the compensation awarded for the property and severance damages, if any, the court may award reasonable attorney fees to the defendant.  The expropriating authority shall not be entitled to possession or ownership of the property until a final judgment has been rendered and payment has been made to the owner or paid into the registry of the court, except as may otherwise be stipulated by the parties.

B.  If either party has demanded a trial by jury to determine compensation, the trial shall be in accordance with the general laws regulating trial by jury, except as provided in this Part and except that in order to render any verdict, five of the jurors must concur therein.  The jury shall consist of six jurors.  The judge may allow the jurors to take a concise summary into the jury room as provided in R.S. 48:451.18.  The number of peremptory challenges is as provided for in R.S. 48:451.9.

C.  After the trial to determine compensation the court shall render judgment against the plaintiff in the amount of the compensation determined to be due the owner.

D.  The expropriating authority shall present its evidence of value first.

E.  Absent an express stipulation by the parties, the plaintiff shall present a prima facie case of the public and necessary purpose of the proposed acquisition.

Amended by Acts 1974, Ex.Sess., No. 11, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975; Acts 2012, No. 702, §1.

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