Oral arguments slated in property destruction case against city

David Yates Jan. 25, 2011, 4:46am

Justices seated on the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals will soon entertain oral arguments to determine whether or not a local judge erred in granting governmental immunity to the city of Beaumont.

In April 2009, the Southeast Texas Record reported that Yvonne Como sued the city, claiming it began demolishing her funeral chapel, located at 1685 Park St. in Beaumont, in December 2007, even though the Jefferson County Appraisal District rated the building's condition as fair on April 30, 2007.

Court papers show the JCAD appraised the value of the funeral chapel at $258,370. However, on May 29, 2007, Beaumont City Council issued an order condemning the building, saying it was a dangerous structure.

On Nov. 8, 2007, Beaumont awarded a contract for demolition and a demolition permit was issued on Dec. 4, 2007, Como claims.

In her suit, Como says she wrote to the city March 13, 2007, before demolition began, asking for public information related to the anticipated demolition, but the city declined to respond to her request.

The chapel was completely demolished by Jan. 30, 2008.

The city filed its plea to the jurisdiction May 22, 2009, arguing Como failed to follow proper legal procedures in taking action against the city and that the statue of limitations had passed for suing a governmental entity.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction on April 5, forcing Como to file an appeal.

The Ninth Court will hear oral arguments on the case March 3.

Como will argue Judge Wortham erred and that her claim is "ripe for the (58th Court's) adjudication and should not be dismissed," court records show.

Scott Newar of Houston represents Como.

Senior Assistance City Attorney Quentin Price represents the city.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A183-753.
Appeals case number: 09-10-000192

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