Kent Steele has been involved in a number of engagements involving valuation related issues for use in litigation cases. Several major court cases utilizing Mr. Steele serves as an expert witness have relied on his valuation expertise.
Current and Recent Cases:
- Confidential, Florida 2021. Mr. Steele is preparing an appraisal of a religious property, which includes both a K-12 school and house of worship for litigation purposes. The case is concerned with a denominational requirement about the ownership of real estate when a house of worship is closed and a restrictive covenant regarding the operation of the school. It is ongoing.
- Waushara County Circuit Court, Wautoma, Wisconsin. Mr. Steele is the expert witness in a case involving diminution in value and damages to a property due to the construction of spite structures along the property line and a resulting impairment of view. He has prepared an appraisal of the property. The case is expected to go to trial later in 2021.
- Walworth County, Wisconsin. Mr. Steele is the expert witness in a case where a property owner is suing an adjacent property owner with an allegation that tree-topping on the plaintiff's lot resulted in a value enhancement on the defendant's lot due to enhanced views of Geneva Lake. The case is ongoing.
- Various location in Iowa. Mr. Steele prepared appraisals of three biodiesel plants and a corporate office on behalf of an energy company. All four appraisals are assessment appeals with the expectation of adversarial hearings. Three of the cases have been settled favorably for the client and the fourth is ongoing.
- Illinois. Mr. Steele is currently working with a law firm and a title insurance company as the expert witness for case involving a claim relating to the recovery of special assessments from a developer. Bonds that were sold to finance the infrastructure improvements in a special assessment district and the amounts recovered from the developer are dependent on the change in assessed valuation within the special assessment district. As part of the process, he prepared an expert report on the value of the special assessments, an appraisal of the real property, gave several depositions, consulted on a deposition of a witness and reviewed appraisal reports. The case is ongoing with depositions completed and trial expected in 2020.
- Yorkville, Illinois. Mr. Steele served as an expert witness on behalf of a title insurance company for a case involving a claim relating to the recovery of special assessments from a developer. Bonds that were sold to finance the infrastructure improvements in a special assessment district and the amounts recovered from the developer are dependent on the change in assessed valuation within the special assessment district. As part of the process, he prepared an expert report on the value of the special assessments, an appraisal of the real property, gave several depositions, consulted on a deposition of a witness and reviewed appraisal reports. The case was adjudicated in 2020.
- Confidential, Illinois. Mr. Steele was hired by a title insurance company to complete an appraisal on two pipeline easements across an improved refinery property. The appraisals followed a judicial order establishing the easements, but not their dimensions. As part of the appraisal, Mr. Steele prepared a review of literature on the width of easements, as well as consideration of the history of the property being appraised and of adjacent properties in estimating the dimensions of the easements. The case is ongoing.
- Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Steele prepared appraisals for a full-service hotel that underwent renovations during the four-year time frame for which appraisals were prepared. The appraisals were prepared for assessment appeals that were settled favorably shortly before an adversarial hearing.
- Wisconsin and Iowa. Mr. Steele prepared appraisals of three select-service hotels for assessment appeals. All three cases were settled favorably, one after an adversarial hearing and one after a conference.
- Davenport, Iowa. Mr. Steele prepared an appraisal on a major hotel/casino for an assessment appeal. He worked closely with counsel in the application of case law relevant to the appraisal process for this owner-occupied property. The case was settled favorably for the client in 2020.
- United States District Court.. Mr. Steele was an expert witness in a case involving multiple insurance companies by a national appraisal company over claims against errors and omissions policies. In this capacity, he has examined appraisals of master planned communities throughout the country and abroad involving assets in excess of $10 billion and opined on valuation methodology and the credibility of the appraisals. He gave a deposition on the matter as a rebuttal witness. After the deposition, the court ordered a summary judgment in favor of Mr. Steele’s client, the insurance company, in 2019.
- Cook County, Illinois. Mr. Steele was engaged to complete retrospective appraisals of a commercial property with and without an easement for a title insurance claim. He also served as a litigation consultant in this case and advised the attorney on the merits and weaknesses of the opponents’ appraisal and consulted on the deposition of an expert witness. He was deposed on the case, which was settled immediately before the trial in 2019.
Past Litigation Engagements:
- Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Steele worked with an attorney and property owner in contesting a right-of-way taking for a temporary construction easement from a major downtown development site. Mr. Steele prepared an appraisal and provided litigation support services in this case, which was settled before trial (2017).
- Madison, Wisconsin. Mr. Steele worked with a law firm and the tenant as the expert witness for case involving the value of a headquarters office property at the end of the lease term with or without capital improvements that may have been required in the lease. Additional consideration also was required to changes in the highest and best use of the property, which was for redevelopment at a more intensive use. He prepared an appraisal of the property and advised the client’s counsel regarding real estate issues. The case was settled.
- Assessment appeals for seven casino hotels with retail space in several Midwest states. Cases settled prior to trials (2010-2017).
- Counsel on multi-year assessment appeal for a major regional mall in a Midwestern city and for a full-service hotel in Indianapolis (2010-2015).
- In the Midwest, Mr. Steele has been the expert retained by property owners in seeking to recover damages due to misrepresentation of facts in a commercial real estate transaction involving a urban hotel (2012-2015). The case, which was a title insurance claim, was settled.
- Mr. Steele prepared an appraisal of the leasehold interest in a historically significant former courthouse building in Detroit. The appraisal was party of a strategic analysis for potential litigation against the owners of the leasehold interest for recovery of certain expenses and a fraudulent lease agreement. Mr. Steele advised counsel regarding the nature of the real property interest, fraudulent representations of the nature of the real property relating to building measurement, the relative merits of the leased fee and leasehold positions, as well as the reversionary value of the real property at the conclusion of the ground lease. This information was incorporated into the legal strategy for recovering funds from the partnership (2005-2008).
- In 2012, he prepared an appraisal for bankruptcy proceeding for an existing self-storage facility in the Chicago area. In this assignment, he was involved a an expert witness in the litigation process, which included counseling the attorneys about supportable debt loads for the property.
- Throughout 2013-2015, Mr. Steele served as the expert witness surrounding the acquisition of a self-storage facility. His role is to provide testimony regarding the value of the property in different configurations as it relates to a commercial fraud law suit. The judicial ruling was a mixed result. The case is under appeal.
- Prepared an appraisal, served as an expert witness for the debtor in possession for the bankruptcy reorganization of the ownership entity of a country club subdivision in Naples, Florida. The case was in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Illinois. Services provided included advising the debtor in possession and counsel about the reasonableness of the marketing and sales program, as well as pricing and yield rates, as it related to the restructuring of debt (1990).
- In Florida, appeared as an expert in a case heard in the Federal District Court in Fort Myers. Mr. Steele worked on behalf of the defendants relating to the value of a several development sites and submerged land intended for boat slips in Naples. The FDIC sought a deficiency judgement against the defendants. Mr. Steele prepared an appraisal of the real property, reviewed other appraisals of the property, advised counsel of the case and gave expert testimony in depositions and federal court. The judge awarded a judgement against the defendants (1989-1991).
- Mr. Steele prepared an appraisal of the fee simple interest of the remaining 370 units in a 390-unit condominium conversion in Tampa for a law firm working on behalf of a lender. The appraisal was used for pre-foreclosure purposes, although the lender still has the loan on its books. In addition, counsel was provided to the attorneys working on the case about issues concerning the real estate and the possible bankruptcy filing of the developer (2009).