WAXAHACHIE — County Court Judge Jim Chapman last week denied requests for summary judgment and case consolidation in three cases related to the proposed high-speed rail.
Two of the cases were filed by Texas Central, the company behind the proposed rail, and a third was filed by landowner Darren Eagle against TC and Integrated Texas Logistics Inc.
The ruling was issued Jan. 28.
According to a press release from Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Texas Central still has no legal right to enter onto private property, nor does it have the right to force landowners to sell their property under the threat of eminent domain.
“Texas Central sued me back in 2016, then dropped the lawsuit after I hired an attorney and filed my papers,” landowner and defended Ronny Caldwell. “Then they sued me again in 2018. For years, I’ve been asking them to show me proof they are a railroad with eminent domain. They never could. And as it turns out, they couldn’t prove it in court either.”
However, a statement released by Texas Central said it is important to note that the court did not rule on the merits of the case, only that it should proceed to trial.
“As such, the court did not rule that Texas Central was not a railroad company or interurban electric railway, and did not it rule on its eminent domain authority. The trial and any appeal will determine these issues,” a release from Texas Central said.
Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR said, the ruling is not a surprise, given that Texas Central has never produced any documentation of eminent domain authority.
“This company has been threatening and suing landowners, sending harassing letters, trespassing, and coercing ‘option contracts’ with the unsubstantiated threat of eminent domain for years,” Workman said. “With no eminent domain authority and no money or approval to construct, calling this project a pipe dream is putting it mildly. In truth, it’s just a bunch of consultants feeding at a Japanese-funded trough. It’s time for Texas Central to call it quits and move on.”
Patrick McShan, an attorney working with TAHSR, said Texas Center has filed 43 cases in six counties but still can’t find a single court to sign off on their legal arguments.
“Once again, Texas Central bullied innocent landowners, sued them, threatened them with attorney’s fees, filed thousands of pages of papers, and then lost in court,” McShan said. “It’s like a broken record. How many more of these cases does Texas Central and their army of lawyers have to lose before they get it through their heads that bringing a bunch of boxes of papers to the courthouse to show how much work you’ve done doesn’t mean you can violate someone’s private property rights?”
TC’s position is that the court only denied the landowners’ motions to consolidate their cases and Texas Central’s motions for summary judgment, effectively moving each case forward toward separate trials.
“We look forward to showing that the laws of Texas irrefutably give this project authority, as a railroad company, to access and survey private land to help determine the train’s most advantageous route between Houston and North Texas,” a press release stated. “Texas has long allowed survey access by railroads, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for a public good and a strong economy.”
Meanwhile, the ruling does not affect company’s operations, its land purchase program, its financial or business partnerships, the Federal Railroad Administration’s environmental assessment or any of the other developments under way to bring Texans a project that will deliver jobs, economic development and innovative transportation options, the release states.