Wagler v. West Boggs Sewer District, Inc., No. 14S00-0710-CV-397, ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind., Dec. 24, 2008)

SULLIVAN, J.

In this case, certain property owners appealed a trial court’s order of condemnation and appropriation in respect of land for sewer easements and persuaded the Court of Appeals to stay the trial court’s order requiring an appeal bond. We assumed jurisdiction of the case to vacate the action of the Court of Appeals and now affirm the judgment of the trial court on the merits.

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The Property Owners contend that sewer districts throughout Indiana like West Boggs do not have condemnation authority. The Property Owners’ argument rests on the assertion that two different statutes granting condemnation authority are irreconcilable and thus the statute omitting sewer districts takes precedence over the statute granting condemnation authority to sewer districts.

The first of the statutes in question is in Title 8 of the Indiana Code, which generally governs public utilities. . . .

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The second statute in question appears in Article 24 of Title 32, which generally governs eminent domain. . . .

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There is no dispute that West Boggs is a public utility under I.C. § 8-1-2-1(a). Indiana Code § 8-1-8-1 grants condemnation and appropriation authority to public utilities and explicitly includes entities engaged in the collection, treatment, purification, and disposal of liquid and solid wastes. This is sufficient statutory authority for West Boggs to take the action it took here. To read the absence of additional authority in I.C. § 32-24-4-1 as a prohibition on the exercise of condemnation authority would require the Court to read a conflict into the two statutes rather than harmonizing them. Finally, the “except as otherwise provided by law” clause of I.C. § 32-24-1-3 can easily be read as an explicit recognition by the Legislature that condemnation authority exists in the Indiana Code outside of Article 24. Under the rules of statutory construction long held by this Court, the two statutes should be read harmoniously unless the differences make the statutes so repugnant as to render them irreconcilable. Indiana Code § 8-1-8-1  and I.C. § 32-24-4-1 are clearly not repugnant to one another and thus present no impediment to West Boggs exercising condemnation authority.

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We affirm the trial court.

SHEPARD, C.J. and DICKSON, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.

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