Waco Court of Appeals holds property owner was precluded from bringing further claims for disannexation

Karen Hall v. City of Bryan, 10-16-00044-CV (Tex. App. –- Waco, January 3, 2018)

This is a disannexation lawsuit where the Waco Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment motion dismissing the Plaintiff’s claims for disannexation.

This is the third lawsuit (4th appeal) brought by Hall in order to disannex property which was annexed by the City back in 1999. The procedural history entails various trips to the Waco Court of Appeals. In 1999 the City annexed a strip of lands leading up to the City’s airport, one section belonging to Hall. Hall originally sued for disannexation in 2004 asserting the City failed to follow the annexation service plan but was unsuccessful. She sued again in 2010 and was unsuccessful. She sued again in 2012.  Each time Hall attempted different grounds and claims seeking disannexation. In the present case (Hall III), the City filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court granted and Hall appealed. The Waco Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the court had jurisdiction to hear the claims the City failed to provide proper police patrols under the annexation plan created in 1999.  All other claims were dismissed. The case was remanded for the police patrol claim and Hall amended her petition again trying to reinject the dismissed claims. The City filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims, which the trial court granted. Hall appealed.

The Waco Court of Appeals first examined whether Hall’s amended petition after remand raised new claims or if they simply recast the claims already dismissed. The court determined she simply re-labeled claims for failing to provide sanitary sewers, fire suppression with hydrants, or a water line capable of supporting fire hydrants. Under the law of the case doctrine, the court would not revisit such claims and they remain dismissed. As to the police patrol claims, the City first asserted the claims were barred by res judicata since Hall raised or could have raised the same claims in Hall I. Hall’s twist on the police patrol claim is that the even if the City provided police patrols, it did not provide them “in good faith” under Chapter 43 of the Local Government Code. The court analyzed the evidence submitted in the City’s summary judgment and noted Hall expressly agreed that in her 2004 petition, she was complaining that the City was not conducting routine and preventative police patrols. Further, she agreed that, in anticipation of supporting her petition for disannexation in 2004, she had recorded 130 hours of video purportedly showing no routine patrols on a street in the annexed area. This is some of the same video evidence she contended supports her claims in her 2014 petition. Regardless of whether the specific claim of no regular or routine preventative police patrols was actually pursued in the 2004 petition for disannexation, Hall knew the claim was present in 2004 and could have raised it. Under the principle of res judicata, such claims are precluded in the present case. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.  Panel consists of Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis and Justice Scoggins. Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice Gray.   Karen Hall appeared pro se.  The attorneys listed for the City are Ryan Henry, Janis Hampton, and Artin DerOhanian.

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