Texas City sued for taking tractor

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 23, 2008, 9:24am

GALVESTON � There is a cliche that says you can't fight city hall, but one Texas City man is nonetheless giving it a yeoman's try.

Daniel Gundermann has filed a lawsuit in Galveston County District Court against his city's government for confiscating without advance notice a back-hoe and a tractor belonging to him.

George Fuller, the director of Texas City community development, and Mayor Matthew Doyle are also named as defendants.

The lawsuit, filed on July 22, argues the city "never provided Gundermann any notice of any specific violations regarding the front-end loader/back hoe that was taken from his property."

"Plaintiff alleges that he should have received notice of a specific violation regarding the front end loader before the front end loader was confiscated from his property," the complaint says.

The property seizures were reportedly conducted by Fuller and a Texas City police officer.

"These employees and agents illegally entered the plaintiff's property without probable cause or notice, and confiscated property, which defendants possessed no legal authority to take," court papers say.

The lawsuit also says that "the defendants' agents have threatened to take an 8-foot-by-8-foot-by-28-foot Conex box from the plaintiff's property" despite the Texas City Zoning Ordinance Board granting Gundermann permission to erect it in 2006.

In response to the alleged threats, Gundermann applied for a temporary restraining order against the city.

He is asking to recover his property and collect damages as a result of economic and property damage.

"These series of actions constitute an unlawful thinking," the suit says. "Since plaintiff's property does not meet the definition required in the city of Texas City's municipal ordinance code, it was improper for defendants to take and sequester plaintiff's property."

"Plaintiffs' property should be returned to plaintiff, and plaintiff prays that this court shall issue a restraining order against defendants, causing the return of his property."

Gundermann is represented by attorney Thomas P. Nixon of Midani and Associates PC of Galveston.

Judge John Ellisor of the 122nd District Court is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV0779

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