Darden Restaurants vs. Rick Singh
This unanimous decision reverses a lower court's ruling to vacate an earlier ruling by the Value Adjustment Board. After this decision, a trial court will revisit the case. The ruling reads:
"Here, the trial court should have remanded this cause to the Property Appraiser with directions that in determining the [fair value], obsolescence must be calculated in accordance with professionally accepted appraisal practices."
Darden argued that the Appraiser must show evidence that they followed accepted appraisal practices. The trial judge "expressly rejected" this argument and referenced precedent from 2002. In the 2002 case, it was ruled that the Appraiser did not have to provide evidence of assessment methods. They could simply say it was their discretion based on expertise.
However, in 2009 the Legislature updated the law. Now the Appraiser must present evidence that their methodology matched the accepted practices. The trial court judge did not uphold this law when he vacated the Value Adjustment Board's ruling.
In 2009, Darden built a new corporate headquarters in Orange County. It includes tangible personal property (TPP), like "computers, office furniture, fitness center equipment, test kitchen equipment, solar panels, signage, an alarm system, and a music system".
Darden is disputing the Property Appraiser's value estimate for the TPP for 2013 and 2014. The value affects how much Darden pays in taxes.
- Darden's estimate was below the Appraiser's by $8.5 million (2013) and $9 million (2014).
- Both times, Darden disputed through the Value Adjustment Board and won.
- The Appraiser challenged those wins in trial court. The trial court reversed the wins and reinstated the Appraiser's value.