Eminent Domain: Buyer Aware Of Adverse Interest Can’t Be Innocent Purchaser

Monday, May 13, 2013 12:00 am
 
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 5
 

A company that bought property the seller had already lost by eminent domain was charged with the knowledge of that transfer--even though the most recent recorded judgment purported to reduce the government’s interest from fee simple to an easement.

Facts: In 2003, the City of Edinburg, Texas condemned land in Hidalgo County to build a drainage ditch. The special commissioners awarded the owner, Herschel White, $207,249 in just compensation. In their report, the special commissioners characterized the interest as a "right-of-way" but also incorporated by reference the City’s original petition, which described the interest it sought as "fee title."

No one objected to the award, and the trial court adopted it as a judgment. In 2004, the City and White’s attorneys agreed to a new judgment that purported to replace the 2003 judgment. The 2004 judgment, fashioned as a "judgment nunc pro tunc," stated that it rendered the 2003 Judgment "null and void" and also described the City’s interest as a "right of way [..]

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