Appellate court upholds ruling in favor of Dow Chemical in trespassing suit filed by SBWP

By Gabriel Neves | Oct 17, 2018

HOUSTON – Dow Chemical obtained a victory in court after having a favorable decision affirmed in a case over allegations of trespassing.

State Justice John Donovan, on the bench of the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals, issued a 13-page ruling on Oct. 9 affirming the Brazoria County 149th District Court decision in a lawsuit filed by Spring Branch Wildlife Preserve (SBWP) against the industrial giant.

Dow was sued over allegations of trespassing, nuisance, and abuse of easement because it blocked a right of passage to a roadway with a fence and a gate.

The lower court denied SBWP's motion and granted summary judgment to Dow. SBWP filed an appeal, and Dow filed a motion to dismiss part of the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

As stated in the ruling, on November 2010, Spring Branch "purchased Lot 13, consisting of five acres of designated wetlands, in Brazoria County," with a market value of $500. The property faced "water on two sides and the only means of ingress and egress by land is over a portion of Casco Road," the ruling said.

In December 2012, per the ruling, Dow "leased Lots 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, in Freeport, Brazoria County," located along Casco Road. The property was leased to provide safe transport of oversized chemical plant components to a construction site.

Improvements were made, including the construction of a dock, widening Casco Road, and building a gated fence along the property. The ruling states these improvements cost Dow $11 million

Spring Branch filed the suit on Nov. 9, 2015, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming that the fence installed by Dow "completely blocks off the gravel portion of Casco Road and intrudes upon the non-gravel portion of the right-of-way."

Dow vacated the property on Nov. 6, 2017, and the lock on the gate was removed.

In his ruling, Donovan recognized the fact that Dow was no longer leasing the property and granted a motion denying Spring Branch's claims.

"Because Dow no longer has a possessory or any other legal interest in Lots 8-12, or any portion of the alleged easement SBWP seeks to enjoin Dow from obstructing, the portion of the appeal seeking injunctive relief or an order for removal of obstructions against Dow and requesting a declaratory judgment as to rights to the easement is denied as moot. We dismiss the moot portion of this appeal for lack of jurisdiction," Donovan said.

Texas 14th District Court of Appeals case number 14-17-00539-CV

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