State v. KNA Partners

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

In State of Texas v. KNA Partners, the State challenged the trial court’s judgment in favor of the appellee property owner, KNA Partners. The State sought to condemn a portion of KNA’s property, which included nine driveways. However, the trial’s decision involved conditioning the transfer of title on the State’s restoration of the nine driveways to KNA’s property. The State appealed this decision, arguing that KNA was granted more relief than it was entitled to under Texas law.KNA argued the appeal is moot because the driveways in question have already been constructed.[1]

KNA owned property at the intersection of IH 610 and Old Katy Road in Harris County, Houston, Texas. The site had nine driveways providing access to the IH 610 and one driveway to Old Katy Road. The State sought to condemn 0.2 acres of KNA’s property for the widening of U.S. Highway 290 (“290”) at the intersection of 290, IH 610 and Old Katy Road. The property the State condemned was a strip of land, thirteen-and-a-half feet wide located along the entire length of the property and included the nine driveways connecting to IH 610.[2]

The issue pending at trial was the amount of just compensation due to KNA as a result of the State’s condemnation of its property. The State said it would provide access to the highway from KNA’s remaining property. All nine driveways that existed prior to condemnation would be reestablished to provide KNA the same driveway access as before the taking.[3]

In its final judgment, the trial court ruled that the State’s title to the property was subject to its agreement to restore the nine driveway locations along the new frontage road abutting KNA’s remainder property that the State represented to KNA before trial and to the Court and jury at trial that it would do.[4]

On appeal, the State challenged the trial’s decision to condition the transfer of title on its restoration of the driveways to KNA’s property. The State argued the trial court granted KNA more relief than it requested and that the trial court’s judgment is erroneous because the State “has the right to change its construction plan even long after the condemnation process is completed” and “that right is destroyed if obtaining passage of title is subject to a particular construction plan.”[5]

KNA countered that the State’s appeal is moot because the driveways have already been constructed.[6] If the Court were to accept the State’s argument and delete the State’s requirement to build the nine driveways, there would be no practical legal effect. Since the driveways have already been built, the only relief the State could be granted is that it did not have to build the highways it has built.[7]

The State retorted that without the relief it’s requesting, “the State will not be able to obtain title insurance for the property without proving to the satisfaction of a title company that the access drives have been restored.”[8]

The Houston First Court of Appeals dismissed the State’s appeal as moot.[9]The Court explained that a justiciable controversy must involve “a real and substantial controversy involving genuine conflict of tangible interest and not merely theoretical dispute.”[10]

State v. KNA Partners reinforces the idea that an eminent-domain issue becomes moot when a party seeks a ruling on some matter that, when rendered, would not have any practical legal effect on the just compensation awarded by the jury.[11] 

[1]. State v. KNA Partners, No. 01-14-00723-CV, 2015 WL 4603385 *1 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, no pet. h.).

[2]. Id.

[3]. Id.

[4]. Id.

[5]. Id. at *2.

[6]. Id.

[7]. Id.

[8]. Id. at *3.

[9]. Id. at *1.

[10]. Id. at *3.

[11]. Id. at *2.

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