Inverse condemnation claims allowed to go forward according to 13th Court of Appeals

CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI v. SCORPIO DEVELOPMENT, LLC., 13-13-00445-CV (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi, March 13, 2014).

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction in an inverse condemnation case which the 13th Court of Appeals affirmed.

The City approved a subdivision plat which contained two lots which were later sold to Scorpio Development (“Scorpio”). Scorpio alleged that the City took 35 feet of its property without compensation when it widened the adjacent roadway. The City asserted Scorpio dedicated that section of right-of-way and therefore no taking could occur as a matter of law. Scorpio asserted the dedication was not authorized. The trial court denied the City’s plea to the jurisdiction and the City appealed.

While the City cited to deposition testimony that the 35 foot expansion area lies within the 50 foot dedicated right-of-way, Scorpio submitted evidence that it lost 35 feet of property. While the testimony does not appear to be a direct contradiction, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals held it believes a fact question exists as to whether or not the expansion project exceeded the 50 foot dedication. The court did note that this fact issue will ultimately determine whether Scorpio will succeed on the merits, but that the court could not be the one to make that call with the current record. As a result, the plea was properly denied and the trial court order is affirmed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel by Chief Justice Valdez, Justices Benavides and Longoria. Opinion by Chief Justice Valdez. The attorneys listed for the City are Lilia K. Castro and  Mark DeKoch.  The attorneys listed for Scorpio are is Charles B. McFarland and David A. Nachigall.