SE Texas Record

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Jury’s $190M reduction of Valero refinery value wiped by appeals court

By David Yates | Apr 1, 2015

A jury’s decision to shave $190 million off the appraised value of a Valero refinery was wiped by the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals on Tuesday, March 31.

In 2011, the Galveston Central Appraisal District valued Valero’s Texas City refinery at $1,046,406,150, court records show.

In turn, Valero Refining-Texas filed a petition for review in Galveston County District Court, arguing the appraisal district appraised the refinery unequally and the value should be reduced.

A jury found that portions of the refinery GCAD had appraised at approximately $527 million were unequally appraised, and that the “equal and uniform value” of those portions was approximately $337 million. The trial court rendered judgment on the verdict, prompting GCAD to appeal, court records show.

On appeal, GCAD argued the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the matter and that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury’s findings.

“Although we conclude the trial court had jurisdiction over Valero’s petition, we agree with GCAD that the evidence is legally insufficient to support the jury’s equal and uniform valuation of Valero’s refinery,” states the Fourteenth Court’s opinion.

“Because there is some evidence of unequal appraisal, we reverse the judgment and remand for a new trial.”

At trial, Valero argued the disputed portions of its refinery were comparable to two other Galveston County refineries belonging to BP and Marathon.

According to the court’s opinion, much of the trial testimony centered on the differences in the three refineries; the appropriate adjustments to be made as a result; and the appropriateness of -- and methodology for --comparing the adjusted values of the refineries.

Although justices concluded the evidence shows that the three refineries are comparable, the evidence was still legally insufficient to support the jury’s findings “because Valero’s experts did not sufficiently explain the basis for their calculations supporting that value, rendering their opinions conclusory,” the opinion states.

And because there is some evidence to so support an equal and uniform valuation, justices opted to remand the case for a new trial, rather than render judgment in favor of the GCAD.

Valero is represented in part by Reagan Simpson and April Farris, attorneys for the Houston law firm Yetter Coleman.

The case was tried in the 56th District Court.

Trial case No. 11-CV-1142

Appeals case No. 14-13-00434-CV

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