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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Jack Howeth was a real-estate developer. He was also the president of Howeth Investments Inc. and the trustee for the 881 Brogden Trust and the 901 Brogden Trust, which in turn were assignees of Howeth Investments Inc. Howeth Investments Inc. was in the business of purchasing and developing real estate. In March 2000, the Howeth parties contracted to purchase two properties located on Brogden Street (the Brogden properties) in the city of Hedwig Village (the city). In September 2000, the Howeth parties obtained fee title to the Brogden properties. The Howeth parties contended that the only way to subdivide the Brogden properties for their intended development was to subdivide each piece of property into two sublots. Under the plan, one subdivided lot on each piece of property would have a flag configuration. A flag configuration is one in which one lot is behind the other relative to the street, so that the back lot has access to the street only by virtue of a long driveway. In June 2000, the Howeth parties and the Brogden properties’ sellers submitted plat applications to the city’s planning and zoning commission for subdivision of the Brogden properties. The June plat applications proposed flag configurations for subdividing each of the two Brogden properties. The commission scheduled a hearing for July 5, 2000, to consider the June plat applications. At the July 5 hearing, the commission deferred approval of the plat applications until its Aug. 2, 2000, meeting, for further review and research. On July 15, 2000, the Howeth parties sought “no action” certificates from the commission, because the commission had allegedly not acted timely on the June plat applications under the timelines established by the Texas Local Government Code �212.009(a). The city’s attorney denied the request, asserting that �212.009(a) did not control, because the June plat applications were mere preliminary applications not subject to �212.009(a). At the Aug.2, 2000, commission hearing, the Howeth parties again participated in a discussion of the June plat applications. A divided commission voted against approving the June plat applications. On Aug. 13, 2000, the Howeth parties and the Brogden properties’ sellers submitted additional plat applications for the Brogden properties. Rather than proposing flag configurations, the August plat applications proposed that the rear subdivided lots on each of the Brogden properties have ingress and egress by virtue of permanent easements over the front subdivided lots. On Aug. 30, 2000, however, the commission denied approval of the August plat applications. The Howeth parties sued the city, the commission and several individuals, including S. Frank White, Robert A. Wiener, Norman A. Ward and Katherine Vazquez. The individual defendants were commission members who voted against the June and August plat applications. The Howeth parties asserted a takings claim under the Texas Constitution against the city and the commission based on allegedly unlawful regulatory takings arising from the wrongful denial of building permits and of the Howeth parties’ applications, the failure to issue no-action certificates and the issuing of a moratorium on flag lots. Against the individual defendants, the Howeth parties sought damages and pleaded that the defendants lacked governmental immunity. The Howeth parties also attempted to reserve unripe constitutional claims against the individual defendants for later assertion in federal court. The individual defendants moved for traditional summary judgment on the Howeth parties’ claim against them, asserting four grounds: 1. no private cause of action for monetary damages against individuals existed for violations of the Texas Constitution, such as a taking without just compensation under Art. I, �17; 2. quasi-judicial immunity barred the claim; 3. official immunity barred the claim; and 4. the Federal Volunteer Protection Act barred the claim. In their summary-judgment response, the Howeth parties first argued that the individual defendants would be liable under 42 U.S.C. �1983, once the Howeth parties’ federal takings claim ripened. The Howeth parties’ response stated: “For the Court to grant summary judgment, as the Individual Defendants request, would be for the Court to adjudicate claims that are not even before it and amount to the rendering of an improper advisory opinion.” The trial court rendered a take-nothing summary judgment in favor of the individual defendants without specifying grounds. The Howeth parties appeal. HOLDING:Affirmed as modified. The Howeth parties’ petition, the court stated, asserted only a regulatory-takings claim under the Texas Constitution against the individual defendants. By expressly reserving unripe �1983 claims against the individual defendants, the Howeth parties’ pleading expressly excluded the �1983 claims from consideration by the trial court. As a result, the court held that the trial court’s summary judgment adjudicated only the regulatory-takings claim asserted under the Texas Constitution. Because the plaintiffs did not assert �1983 claims, the court held that the trial court did not render summary judgment on the reserved �1983 claims. Next, the Howeth parties argued alternatively that the trial court erred in rendering summary judgment, because the Howeth parties did not plead a state-law, constitutional-takings cause of action against the individual defendants, so that the individual defendants’ summary judgment ground that no private cause of action for damages existed for such claims was superfluous. The court, however, found that the Howeth parties indeed pleaded a state-law, constitutional-takings cause of action for damages against the individual defendants but later abandoned the claims. Because the Howeth parties abandoned their sole claim against the individual defendants, the court held that the trial court should have dismissed that claim without prejudice. The trial court, however, instead rendered a take-nothing summary judgment on this claim. A take-nothing judgment is one on the merits. An adjudication on the merits of a claim is improper after the claim has been abandoned, the court stated. OPINION:Taft, J.; Taft, Alcala and Hanks, J.J.

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