County road dedication turns out to be a private road says Fourth Court of Appeals

Chaney and Medina County v. Simon Camacho and Felipe Camacho, 04-12-00358-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, December 11, 2013)(mem. Op.)

This is a private v public road dedication case.  A jury determined the road was private which the San Antonio Court of Appeals affirmed.

Chaney owned property on one side of the road and the Camacho’s owned the property on the other side of the road. However, a survey reveals the disputed road lies within the Camacho’s property. In the underlying lawsuit, Chaney sued Simon, Felipe, and Medina County asking for a declaratory judgment adjudicating the public status of the disputed road. The Camachos, who claim the road as their private driveway, counter-sued Chaney and Medina County for a declaratory judgment adjudicating the private status of the disputed road. The Camachos asserted the property documents established the roadway was merely an easement across their land. The Jury ruled for the Camachos which the County and Chaney appealed.

The court began with an explanation of what a “public dedication” is and comes about.  The court analyzed whether the evidence demonstrated an express dedication. The language in the dedication of plat noted the public had an easement for use of the roadway (with a reversionary clause for profit). It also noted that the trustees in charge of it reserve the right to close off from the public or to abandon the roadway to the public. The language had contradicting interpretations and it was the jury’s duty to determine the dedicating party’s intent.  The jury determined and the evidence supported a finding that the dedication was for an easement only, not for the full dedication of the roadway. The court then analyzed an implied dedication standard and, after noting several testimony and evidence points, ruled the evidence supported the jury finding that no donative intent was present or acceptance by the County. The jury determinations, including attorney’s fees, was affirmed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.