News

June 12, 2014

Cantey Hanger Eminent Domain Litigation Partners Win $1.1 Million Judgment for Developers

FORT WORTH, TX – Below is a compilation of two Hood County News articles written by reporters Kathy Cruz and Mark Wilson.

BY KATHY CRUZ & MARK WILSON
HOOD COUNTY NEWS

A four-woman, two-man jury was unanimous in awarding damages of more than $1.1 million to the developers of lakefront property in the Stockton Bend sub-division.

The land, off the Loop 567 extension connecting Weatherford Highway and East Pearl Street in Granbury, TX, was purchased by Tim Fleet of Fort Worth and Jim Makens of Colleyville in November 1996. It had been earmarked for a sub-division and had received approval from the city during the late ’90s.

Makens and Fleet declined an offer from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). A court case, in Judge Vincent Messina’s County Court-at-Law, was the next step for TxDOT in gaining the land under eminent domain laws. Lawyers with the Texas Attorney General’s office claimed the state highway department caused no damage to the land.

“The state has to file a lawsuit if it is not able to agree to an amount,” said Mary Barkley, who represented Fleet and Makens along with co-counsel S.G. (John) Johndroe of Cantey Hanger LLP.

The jury ruled in favor of Fleet and Makens, fixing the compensation for the 4.112 acres at $284,912. Compensation for the remaining 96 acres in Stockton Bend was established at $843,765. The state has the right to appeal the jury’s decision.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” Barkley said. “The jury awarded within the range of numbers we requested.”

Fleet and Makens originally had asked TxDOT for $2.5 million for the land used.

“I was guessing that’s about where they (the jury) were going to come in at,” Makens said. “I thought it was reasonable.”

Fleet and Makens, partners in Stockton Bend 100 Joint Venture, claimed the state highway department caused damage during construction of the loop extension that would affect the potential value of 113 proposed lots in Stockton Bend.

Only two houses have been constructed and both are part-time residences, according to Makens. Development was slowed because of other subdivisions that came on the market and the recession.

Barkley said that the developers employed several experts to testify on soil erosion and other points of contention. Barkley told the jury that the once “pristine” property now has a highway that is “5-to-9 feet elevated above the rest of the Stockton Bend property.”

The elevation disparity has posed problems with ingress and egress, she said.

Problems also had resulted from the state replacing a 48-inch culvert with five culverts that are five feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Fleet and Makens, she said, “can’t develop anywhere near where these drainage facilities are. Many investors will not even look at this property anymore,” Barkley said.

“I really think our witnesses took a more practical approach and based their opinions on real world evidence,” she said. “The whole trial was based on how much this affects the property.”

The developers’ legal team was led by S.G. “John” Johndroe III, Senior Partner and Chair of Cantey Hanger’s Eminent Domain/Property Rights Litigation Practice Group and Mary H. Barkley, Fort Worth Partner. Other integral members of Cantey Hanger’s representation of the landowners included Fort Worth Partner, Mary Colchin Johndroe, and Paralegal, Kellie Guinn.