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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Appellants Tim and Diana Gleason and Randy and Susan Estes alleged that appellee Albert Taub trespassed on their private property with a bulldozer, destroyed vegetation, and removed 16,000 cubic feet of dirt for use on another property where he was the construction manager. The affected part of the property was subject to a public drainage easement. Appellants sued Taub for trespass, claiming that Taub’s actions had damaged them by adversely affecting their visual enjoyment of the property and had shortened the life of their trees. Taub filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that appellants did not have standing to sue for trespass. He also filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he did not owe appellants a duty to refrain from entering the property and removing dirt, because the property was subject to a public easement. The trial court granted both the plea and the motion and appellants sought review. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Appellants argue on appeal that the trial court erred by ruling that they lacked standing to sue and by granting Taub’s motion for summary judgment on all claims. The basis of Taub’s argument regarding appellants’ lack of standing was that because a public easement is superior to the right of the individual who owns the fee, only the public (in this case, a municipality) can bring a suit for trespass on the public easement. The court notes that the land on which the trespass allegedly occurred is entirely within a public floodway, drainage and utility easement, but finds that appellants are the owners of the underlying fee to the property that has directly been injured. The court points out that Taub entered appellants’ property and removed dirt, allegedly damaging their property. The court concludes that appellants have standing to sue because they own the property and their property rights have been aggrieved by the alleged wrong. Because appellants have standing to sue, the court holds that the trial court erred by sustaining Taub’s plea to the jurisdiction. In his motion for summary judgment, Taub claims that, as a matter of law he owed appellants no duty to refrain from entering the drainage and utility easement or removing dirt from the easement, and that he had a right to go into the area to improve the flow of water by moving dirt and removing vegetation because such actions are within the scope of the easement. The court disagrees and holds that because Taub has not conclusively disproved appellants’ ownership of the property, he has failed to show as a matter of law that he owed no duty to appellants. The court also points out that Taub is neither the city nor the dominant tenant. The court notes that the city or dominant tenant has an absolute right to alter the easement in a manner consistent with its purpose, but determines that nothing in the law suggests Taub was exalted above the status of a rank trespasser merely because his activities on appellants’ property happened to be consistent with the public’s easement. Consequently, the court holds that the trial court erred by granting his motion for summary judgment. OPINION:Anne Gardner, J.; Livingston, Gardner, and McCoy, JJ.

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