FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2016
CONTACT: Desi Burns Porter
TEXAS CENTRAL IS NOT A RAILROAD, DOES NOT HAVE EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORITY
MAJOR HIGH SPEED RAIL OPPOSITION VICTORY
(Jewett, Texas) Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure’s motion to be declared a railroad with eminent domain authority denied by Harris County judge. Last Friday, landowner Calvin House and Texans Against High Speed Rail delivered another devastating blow to Texas Central’s ill-advised Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail project. In Harris County, on Texas Central’s home court, where it has sued more than 20 landowners – the Court denied Texas Central’s motion for summary judgment “in its entirety.”
In doing so, the Court ruled against Texas Central on its claim that it is a railroad with eminent domain authority and the right to survey private property. As it stands, Texas Central has no legal right to enter onto private property, nor does it have the right to force landowners to sell their property under the threat of eminent domain. In short, everything Texas Central has been telling landowners for the past year has been completely false. Hopefully now, after having lost twice in its own backyard, Texas Central will finally realize that – in Texas – merely saying you’re a railroad doesn’t mean that you are a railroad.
Landowner Calvin House said he is pleased with the ruling, but the whole experience has taken a toll on both his family and his business. “Texas Central came to my property six different times asking for a survey. Every time they told me they had eminent domain. Then, they sued me, and I had to hire a lawyer. Now I see why they never could show me a piece of paper saying they had eminent domain like condemning authorities are required to do. It’s because they never had it to begin with. I’m glad the court ruled in my favor, but I sure didn’t like being harassed for months, sued, and forced into court.”
Our legal team, led by Blake Beckham, Patrick McShan and Alec Pedigo of The Beckham Group, along with Glenn Sodd, Jason Sodd, and Jody McSpadden of the Dawson Sodd law firm, worked countless hours to protect Mr. House’s and all Texans’ private property rights.
Beckham said, “Texas Central picked Harris County, the court, and the landowner. They brought in every bit of legal firepower money could buy. And they lost. Again. This is a landmark victory for all Texas landowners. The ruling makes it crystal clear that Texas Central is not a railroad and does not have eminent domain authority. With no legal authority, no money, and no approval to construct, the project is on a train to nowhere.”
Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail, said, “We are not surprised by this decisive ruling, given that Texas Central has never produced proper documentation of eminent domain authority. They knew this issue was before the courts, but that hasn’t stopped them from bullying their way onto property while misrepresenting themselves as a railroad with the power of eminent domain. We call for Texas Central to immediately cease their underhanded tactics to gain access to private property, as they have no right to demand access or coerce option contracts with private property owners.”
Texans Against High Speed Rail Chairman and Grimes County Judge Ben Leman commented, “Look, this ruling is a smoking gun. This company has been threatening and suing landowners, sending harassing letters, trespassing, and pushing option contracts with the threat of eminent domain for over a year, and they have been doing so without any proof of eminent domain. This is not only egregious, but counter to the way we operate in this great state. The Japanese should reconsider where they implement their train, because, in Texas, we respect private property rights and will not tolerate this type of behavior.”