No new trial for plaintiff in ditch-digging suit

David Yates Nov. 7, 2011, 10:00am

Last Thursday, Texas justices seated on the Ninth District Court of Appeals declined to hand plaintiff Ricky Lightfoot, who sued two companies for trespassing on his property, a new trial.

In February 2008 the Southeast Texas Record reported on Lightfoot's suit, which claims Kelly Family Investments and Allied Electrical Contractors of Beaumont Inc. trespassed and widened a drainage ditch on his property without permission.

Court documents show that Lightfoot owns the property known as Washington Village Parkway in Beaumont.

Two years after the suit was filed, Kelly Family Investments and Allied Electrical filed a counterclaim, in which the companies assert Lightfoot's suit is "frivolous and without merit" and nothing more than an attempt to "extort monies."

On Aug. 11, 2010, a final judgment was entered in the case, officially granting the defendants' motion for directed judgment and ordering that Lightfoot recover nothing, court papers say.

After Lightfoot's motion for new trial was denied, he filled an appeal on Sept. 8.

"Because we conclude that Lightfoot failed to present evidence raising a fact issue essential to his right to recover on his trespass claim, the trial court properly directed a verdict in favor of appellees," writes Chief Justice Steve McKeithen in the Ninth Court's Nov. 3 opinion.

"We, therefore, cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Lightfoot's motion for new trial. We overrule Lightfoot's sole issue and affirm the trial court's judgment."

Lightfoot says in his suit that he has suffered serious and substantial damage, and demanded that the drainage ditch now be filled with dirt or with pipe and covered with dirt.

Kelly Family Investments and Allied Electrical are represented by Beaumont attorney Daniel Clayton.

Lightfoot is represented by attorney Thomas J. Sibley.

Jefferson County Case No. D181-168
Appeals Case No. 09-10-00508-CV

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