Owners of Texas Business Win $500,000 Jury Verdict in Eminent Domain Dispute

Marrs Ellis & Hodge prevails in I-35 Land Fight

BELTON, Texas – A Bell County jury has returned a verdict of more than $500,000 to a Central Texas couple, finding that the State of Texas didn’t pay them enough when it took a parcel of their land to widen Interstate 35. The jury award, delivered Oct. 26, is five times the amount the state had offered for the private property through eminent domain.

The dispute involved a 9,500-square-foot parcel of land that for more than 30 years housed part of an auto salvage business operated by W.H. and Sandra Anderson in Troy, Texas. In 2012, the state filed for condemnation of the property to expand I-35 and conditionally agreed to pay the Andersons approximately $65,000.

As part of the project, state officials moved the Anderson’s northern driveway on the Interstate frontage road to a new location about 110 feet south. However, the new driveway caused numerous safety problems and accidents, primarily because large trucks and heavy-duty salvage vehicles were being forced to use the driveway with other retail customer traffic.

“Based on the problems created by this taking of private property, the jury agreed that the state did not adequately compensate the Andersons,” said their attorney Justin Hodge of Marrs Ellis & Hodge LLP, a Texas firm that specializes in condemnation and eminent domain litigation.

“The overwhelming power that the state holds under eminent-domain law can often be abused, creating unforeseen and unwarranted safety issues for property owners,” Mr. Hodge said. “These cases can be difficult to win, but I know the Andersons are relieved that this award will enable them to better address the problems caused by the taking of their property.”

According to Mr. Hodge this is only the second case brought to trial since 2009 based on hundreds of eminent-domain filings by the state for the 94-mile-long I-35 expansion project.

The case is State of Texas v. Skyway Holdings LLC, No. 0015-04-083, filed in County Court at Law No. 3 in Bell County.

Founded in 2012 by former classmates from the University of Texas School of Law, Marrs Ellis & Hodge LLP features trial and appellate lawyers with a wealth of expertise primarily in eminent domain law, as well as fiduciary, real estate, and trust and estate litigation. To learn more about the firm, visit http://mehlaw.com/.

Media Contact:
Barry Pound

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