Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1954, an organization known as the Ector County Sheriff’s Posse leased approximately 79 acres of land from Ector County for a term of 99 years for $10. The organization was a riding club created to promote a love of horses and good horsemanship, to promote and maintain rodeos, and to serve as goodwill ambassadors for Odessa and Ector County by participating in rodeo events. Ector County Sheriff’s Posse took possession of the property and began building improvements. In 1959, the posse incorporated itself as The Ector County Sheriff’s Posse Inc. In 1963, the secretary of state dissolved the corporation for failing to pay franchise taxes. In 1986, the Ector County Sheriff’s Posse Inc., was again incorporated. In 2003, the organization changed its name to The Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse Inc. because the prior name had been taken by former posse members. The leased property was occupied continuously from 1954 and was used for a variety of purposes including rodeos and barbecues. It was made available to law enforcement agencies for training and to other charitable, religious and educational groups for their use. By 2005, the property’s improvements were estimated to be worth approximately $300,000. In 1999, Ector County decided to extend and widen a runway at Schlemeyer Field to make the airport more accessible for larger aircraft that were being forced to use other facilities. Texas Department of Transportation officials required the removal of the leased property’s improvements, because they were located in the safety apron of the expanded runway. Ector County and Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse engaged in negotiations to relocate the group. The parties could not reach an agreement, and Ector County ordered the group to vacate the property. Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse filed an inverse condemnation and declaratory judgment action. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. Ector County also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing. The trial court denied Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse’s motion, granted Ector County’s traditional motion for summary judgment, granted Ector County’s motion to dismiss and entered a take-nothing judgment in its favor. On appeal, Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse argues that the trial court erred by not finding that it has standing as a matter of law or, alternatively, by not finding that a question of fact exists on its standing. It argued that summary judgment was improper because a question of fact exists on its inverse condemnation claim. Finally, Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse contended that it established a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) as a matter of law or, alternatively, that a question of fact existed on this claim. HOLDING:Affirmed in part; reversed and remanded in part. Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse asserted that it has standing because it has a property interest in the leased premises under one of four theories: lease by conduct; successor in interest; assignment; or estoppel. Each theory, the court stated, relies upon equitable principles because Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse does not claim that the original corporation formally assigned its interest in the lease or that Ector County formally recognized its property rights. Because one cannot acquire a property interest adverse to a county by the application of an equitable doctrine, the court agreed with the trial court that Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse had no property interest in the leased property and as a result did not have standing in the matter. Because Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse did not have standing, the court did not consider the third issue relating to a potential takings claim. The court found that the March 28, 2005, notice for a meeting in which county officials discussed evicting the posse did not satisfy the Texas Open Meetings Act. The court, however, found the May 9, 2005, notice adequate because it specifically referred to the pending litigation and indicated that the commissioners would meet with counsel in executive session to discuss the litigation and in open session might take any and all action necessary concerning that litigation. The court found that Ector County’s May 9 meeting notice complied with TOMA and, therefore, that the May 10 eviction notice was not void. Even if the May 9 meeting notice was sufficient, the court stated, Odessa Texas Sheriff’s Posse would still have a claim for attorney’s fees if the March 28 meeting notice was insufficient. Texas Government Code �551.142 provides that a prevailing party in a TOMA action may recover its fees and costs. Whether to make an award falls within the trial court’s sound discretion, the court stated. Because the trial court had not yet had the opportunity to exercise its discretion, the court found that a partial remand was appropriate. OPINION:Strange, J.; Wright, C.J., and McCall and Strange, J.J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.