Justices amend ruling in property destruction suit

David Yates Sep. 7, 2011, 7:48am

Following a rehearing, the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals amended its opinion formerly affirming a local judge's ruling granting the city of Beaumont governmental immunity in a property destruction case.

Yvonne Como sued the city in April 2009, claiming her funeral chapel, located at 1685 Park St. in Beaumont, was demolished in December 2007, even though the Jefferson County Appraisal District rated the building's condition as fair on April 30, 2007.

As previously reported, on June 2 the Ninth Court issued an opinion affirming a lower court's ruling to grant the city governmental immunity.

However, on Aug. 31 justices withdrew their original ruling and issued a new opinion, court records show.

"On motion for rehearing, we withdraw our Opinion of June 2, 2011, and substitute this opinion," writes Justice Hollis Horton.

"We reverse in part the trial court's order granting the appellee's plea to the jurisdiction and remand the appellant's state and federal takings claims to the trial court."

Justices concluded Como was entitled to a de novo judicial review, which means a new trial by a different tribunal, of her constitutional takings claims.

"The trial court erred in dismissing with prejudice Como's state and federal takings claims," the opinion states.

"We hold that Como's Texas Public Information Act claim is moot, and that the trial court did not err in dismissing Como's remaining claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, we reverse, in part, the order granting the plea to the jurisdiction and remand the state and federal takings claims to the trial court ... and in all other respects, the trial court's order of dismissal is affirmed."

Court records show that the city filed a 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, 2010, forcing Como to file an appeal.

Scott Newar of Houston represents Como.

Senior Assistance City Attorney Quentin Price represents the city.

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

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