County appeals decision not to dismiss Glen Morgan's suit over property appraisal

David Yates Dec. 6, 2011, 3:00am


The Jefferson County Appraisal District will soon argue before the Ninth Court of Appeals that a well-known Beaumont attorney, who sued over the property value of his private plane hangar, doesn't have a case.

In May 2009, the county unsuccessfully moved for governmental immunity in a suit filed by plaintiff's attorney Glen Morgan, a managing partner in the Reaud, Morgan & Quinn law firm.

Two years later, the county filed a supplemental motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction on June 21, court records show.

On Sept. 6 Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, denied the motion, prompting the JCAD to file an appeal a week later.

The parties will present their oral arguments before Ninth Court justices on Dec. 15, court records show.

In its appellate brief, the county argues that Judge Floyd erred in denying its motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction by failing to find that Morgan had timely filed his review as to tax year 2006.

The JCAD had argued in its denied motion that Morgan's suit only complains of an appraisal value for the tax year 2005.

"In fact, no appraised value was ever on the tax roles ... for tax year 2005 and no ad valorem tax was assessed to plaintiff for that year," the motion states. "Therefore, plaintiff has no cause of action ... and (his) claims should related to 2005 should be dismissed."

Court records show that Morgan filed a response on June 30, arguing that 2005 was a typographical error and that he has amended his petition to state tax year 2006, court papers say.

Conversely, the county contends in its briefs that Morgan cited no authority to support his argument that his suit should be allowed to continue because of a typographical error.

The JACD further contends that Morgan failed to exhaust administrative remedies first.

Morgan sued the JACD in 2006, claiming the hangar he leased from the Southeast Texas Regional Airport was exempt from ad valorem taxes and that the county had appraised the property above its cash market value.

"The property made the subject of this litigation was at all timed owned by Jefferson County and as such not subject to taxation," Morgan's suit states. "Plaintiff does not own the property but merely has the right to use the property pursuant to an operating lease."

In his suit, Morgan also argues the property "has been appraised at a value greater than its fair cash value and in a manner and amount that is not equal and uniform in comparison to other properties, and, therefore, the property's appraised value is excessive and unlawful."

The appraisal district took special exceptions to Morgan's claim in its answer, asserting Morgan failed to state what the market value of the property should be.

"Plaintiff pleads that the property is excessively appraised and stated that the appraised value ... is in excess of its 'fair cash value,'" the answer states. "Yet nowhere in ... his petition does plaintiff state what he contends the market value ... to be as required by the ... Tax Code."

The JCAD is represented in part by Nederland attorney Joseph Jannise Jr.

172nd District Judge Donald Floyd is presiding over the case.

The case had been originally assigned to 58th District Judge Bob Wortham, a former Reaud, Morgan & Quinn attorney.

Case No. A177-646

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