Team 7: M2 Texas Central Railroad v. Miles, Case

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Team 7: M2 Texas Central Railroad v. Miles, Case by Mind Map: Team 7: M2 Texas Central Railroad v. Miles, Case

1. Issue

1.1. The issues, in this case, is to determine whether the appellants' status as a Railroad company hold and its power of eminent domain hold under the current Texas Transportation codes § 131.011 and § 81.002 and whether the property code's violation under the Landowner Bill of Right is a remediable offense. Furthermore, the trial court needs to determine whether Legislature intended interurban electric railway statutes to govern “modern bullet trains”. Based on the definition provided “high speed rail”under the Texas Transportation code § 112.2010, Mr Miles argues that it is undisputed that the interurban electric railway statute was never intended to encompass high-speed trains.

2. Analysis/Application

2.1. Railroad companies:

2.1.1. Appellee: Mr. Miles argued that the appellants are not Railroad companies as defined in the Texas Transportation code § 81.002 because they were not incorporated before September 1, 2007 and have not started to build, operate and maintain railroads yet as the appellants have spent about 1% of their overall budget. Appellants: The appellants argued that although they were incorporated after September 1, 2007 the legislature intent in its statutory language could be enacted in the future, particularly in the appellants case as they have already taken considerable steps to operate as a Railroad company. Court: The court granted a summary judgement to the appellants on the railroad status issue as they did not believe that a strict construction of the statute should apply to this case. The court favored a consistent application of the law considering the statute as a whole for better compliance of the legislature with the Texas constitution TEX, GOV’T CODE ANN. §311.021. Moreover, the court considered the legislature under the Transportation code § 81.002 to include future tense in its application. Thus, the appellants qualify as railroad companies given all the prior action taken to operate as such.

2.2. Interurban Electric Railway Companies:

2.2.1. Appellee: Mr. Miles claimed that TCRI and ITL are not interurban electric railways because they aren’t chartered for the specific purpose of conducting and operating an electric railway between municipalities of two states. Appellants: TCRI and ITL argued that they are interurban electric railway companies as defined in the Transportation Code. In the subchapter id. § 131.011, the term ‘interurban electric railway company’ means “a corporation chartered under the laws of this state to conduct and operate an electric railway between two municipalities in this state”, which the companies believe they meet. Court: The court had to determine whether the appellants are classified as interurban electric railways, Their findings concluded that, under § 131.011 of the Transportation Code, they are. They found nothing in the statute to confirm Miles’ assertion that the statute does not extend to high-speed rails, but rather was intended for “localized, electronic trolley-car companies of a century ago”.

2.3. Landowner Bill of Rights:

2.3.1. Appellee: Mr. Miles argued that the appellants violated the Texas Property Code § 21.0112 by “failing to provide him a copy of the landowner’s bill of rights” as stipulated within the TEX. PROP. CODE ANN. § 21.0112 Appellants: The appellant, TCRI argued that at the trial court level, Mr. Miles failed to address TCRI’s failure to provide the landowner’s bill of rights in his motion for summary judgement. The appellant, ITL argues that Mr. Miles’ claims were irrelevant to the relief sought as it was neither a condemnation nor eminent domain proceeding. Court: The court determined that Mr. Miles' failure to “preserve the issue for review” contradicts the legal precedent as provided in the case of McConnell v. Southside Indep.Sch. Dist., 858 S.W.2d 337, 371 (Tex. 1993) that requires it is presented to the trial court. The court further determined that ITL violated the property code and that remand is unnecessary as the violation was corrected and remediated by provision of the landowner’s bill of rights to Mr. Miles.

3. Facts

3.1. Parties:

3.1.1. Texas central railroad & infrastructure, inc. and Integrated Texas logistics, inc., appellants

3.1.2. Mr. James Fredrick Miles, appellee

3.2. What Happened

3.2.1. Mr. Miles, a Landowner in Texas, filed a lawsuit against the TCRI and the ITL after denying a request to conduct a survey on his land for an interurban electric railroad project. Mr. Miles amended his petition later on to include a declaratory relief request for a complete denial of statutory entitlement for TCRI and ITL to access his property and for the reimbursement of the attorney fees resulting from the suit. Mr. Miles was granted a summary judgment which was appealed by TCRI and ITL, claiming insufficient evidence of non-compliance with statutory laws. The three issues under discussion were the status of the appellants as a Railroad company, the validity of the Power of eminent domain that qualifies TCRI and ITL as interurban electric railways, and a violation of the Landowner Bill of Rights due to a lack of timeliness submitting the documents to Mr. Miles. The appellants successfully produced evidence to support their claims of compliance with the Texas Transportation Code § 131.011 and § 81.002. On the third issue related to the Landowner Bill of Rights violation, no remand was allowed because the appellants cured the violation. Moreover, the attorney’s fees and court costs were remanded to the trial court. The summary judgment of the trial court’s favoring the appellee was reversed. A partial summary judgment was rendered to the appellants by the court of appeals thirteenth district of Texas.

3.2.2. Procedural History

3.2.2.1. The Texas Central Railroad v. Miles Case is an appellate in the court of appeals thirteenth district of Texas. The appellants' Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, inc. (TCRI)and Integrated Texas Logistics, inc. (ITL) filed an appeal to reverse a summary judgment granted to the appellee, Mr. Miles. The appeal followed a successful petition previously submitted by Mr. Miles for a declaratory relief for the TCRI and ITL Railroad project. The original petition filed by Mr. Miles sought a denial to survey his land for the Railroad project. The petition was amended later to ask for denial for further claim form of statutory entitlement to evaluate Mr. Miles’ land and sought compensation for attorney’s fees. The trial court judgement ruled in the appellants favor on the statutory issue of being a Railroad company, under the Texas transportation code § 81.002, the Power of eminent domain as being an interurban electric railways under the § 131.011 of the Transportation Code, and the failure to present the Landowner Bill of Rights in a timely manner as stated under the Texas Property code § 21.0112.

4. Rule of Law

4.1. Two legal principles the court used to come to a conclusion is the definition of an entity based on its operations and the interpretation of these statutes. Miles contended that neither entities were entitled to eminent domain because they are not railroad companies according to TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. § 81.002. Section 81.002. Miles has argued that it is an eminent domain case and the statute involved should be “strictly construed in favor of the landowner and against those corporations and arms of the State vested therewith”. However, the companies argued that the interpretation must be based on the intent of which it was written and to not take the subsections alone, but the whole statutes to identify its intent. The answer to this question was then used to conclude if eminent domain was applicable in this specific situation.

5. Conclusion

5.1. The justices reversed the trial court’s judgement denying appellants’ declaratory judgement requests that TCRI and ITL are railroad companies and interurban electric railways and gave judgement granting appellants’ partial summary judgement. They reversed the trial court’s judgement granting Miles’s summary judgement motion. They also sent the issue of attorney’s fees and court costs back to the trial court for their reconsideration to resolve the TCRI and ITL’s remaining claims for injunctive relief.

6. Impact on the Parties

6.1. The practical effect on the court’s decision is to interpret the statutes in a way that ensures legislative guidance is effective as opposed to second-guessing policy choices or weighing the effectiveness of their results. As a result, the court’s decision regarding the appellants was favorable as it resulted in the reversal of the trial court’s decisions to grant the appellants partial summary judgment. The court's decision was unfavorable to Mr. Miles by denying summary judgement. The courts remanded the case to trial court to resolve the issues of denying and awarding attorney fees in accordance with the legal precedent provided in the cases of Collin Cty v. City of McKinney, 553 S.W.3d 79, 87 (Tex. App.- Dallas 2018, no pet) and Hartsell v. Town of Talty. 130 S.W.3d 325, 329 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2004, pet. denied) for remaining claims of injunctive relief.

7. Importance

7.1. For TCRI and ITL, the court’s ultimate determination confirms and reiterates that corporations which meet certain requirements can exercise the power of eminent domain, granted that they provide for the public good. For the general public, the court’s decision implies that eminent domain is a practice which is acceptable, provided that the railroad companies meet all the conditions stated. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to property owners. Ideally property owners should follow this practice for the sake of economic well-being and infrastructure planning. It seems that Miles and his lawyer(s) were trying to find loopholes to avoid giving up the land, when in fact eminent domain is common in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world.