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Outer Space Signs, LLC v. Clagg

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

September 9, 2013

OUTER SPACE SIGNS, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JANE CLAGG, GUARDIAN OF FLOYD H. HILL, Defendant-Appellee.

Stanley C. Bender, Portsmouth, Ohio, for appellant.

William S. Cole, Jackson, Ohio, for appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

William H. Harsha, Judge.

(¶1} Outer Space Signs, LLC, (Outer Space) appeals the trial court's judgment awarding damages for destruction of its outdoor billboard by Floyd Hill. Outer Space argues that the trial court erred in its calculation of damages because it is entitled to the replacement cost of the billboard, rather than the market value. To support its argument Outer Space cites cases involving utility poles and claims that like utility poles, the measure of damages to billboards should be the replacement cost because a billboard's reconstruction is regulated by the State of Ohio. However, unlike a utility pole, a billboard has an identifiable market value. Therefore, it is subject to the general rule that when the property is destroyed the measure of damages is the market value immediately before the injury. Moreover, the replacement cost in this case presumably would exceed the market value of the billboard immediately before the injury and thus create a windfall for Outer Space. Therefore, we reject Outer Space's argument that the trial court used the wrong measure of damages.

(¶2} Outer Space also contends that the trial court erred by finding that it paid $2, 500 for the billboard and determining the market value to be the original purchase price. We agree that the trial court erred as a matter of law by considering a prorated purchase price as the market value of the billboard "immediately" before the destruction. So we vacate that portion of the trial court's judgment.

I. FACTS

(¶3} This case involves the destruction of one of Outer Space's outdoor billboards by Floyd Hill. In 2006, Outer Space purchased four billboards for a total purchase price of $10, 000. One of these billboards was located on property in Jackson, Ohio, along a scenic byway. At that time, Outer Space leased the portion of land containing the billboard from the property owner in exchange for an annual fee. Hill subsequently acquired the property subject to the lease and in 2010 he demolished the billboard.

(¶4} Outer Space filed a complaint alleging intentional tortious damage against Jane Clagg, in her capacity as Hill's guardian. The matter proceeded to trial where the court found that Hill destroyed the billboard without Outer Space's permission and ordered the parties to submit post-trial briefs addressing the measure of damages. In the briefs Outer Space argued the measure of damages was the replacement cost of the billboard, but Clagg argued that it was the fair market value of the billboard at the time of destruction. The trial court awarded Outer Space $2, 500 in damages, which it determined was the original purchase price and market value of the billboard. Outer Space now appeals the trial court's judgment.

II. ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

(¶5} Outer Space raises one assignment of error for our review:

1. "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS CALCULATION OF DAMAGES."

III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

A. Measure of Damages

(¶6} In its assignment of error, Outer Space argues that the trial court erred by determining that the measure of damages was the fair market value of the billboard. Rather, Outer Space contends that the measure of damages in this case is the ...


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