Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

City of San Antonio v. Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

March 1, 2017

CITY OF SAN ANTONIO, Appellant
v.
HAYS STREET BRIDGE RESTORATION GROUP, Appellee

         From the 73rd Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2012-CI-19589 Honorable David A. Canales, Judge Presiding

          Karen Angelini, Justice Marialyn Barnard, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice

          Marialyn Barnard, Justice

         REVERSED, RENDERED, AND DISMISSED FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION

         This is an appeal from a judgment in a breach of contract action. The underlying dispute involves property located at 803 North Cherry Street near the Hays Street Bridge ("the Cherry Street Property") in San Antonio, Texas. Appellee, the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group ("the Group"), sued appellant, the City of San Antonio ("the City"), alleging the City breached a Memorandum of Understanding ("the Memorandum"), by failing to develop a park on the Cherry Street Property. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting governmental immunity from the Group's breach of contract claim. The trial court denied the plea and the case proceeded to trial. The trial court ultimately rendered judgment on the jury's verdict against the City and ordered specific performance in accordance with the terms of the Memorandum. On appeal, the City argues its immunity from suit on the Group's breach of contract claim had not been waived. The City further contends that even if its immunity from suit had been waived, the Memorandum is not a contract as a matter of law, or in the alternative, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish a breach of contract or injury. Because we conclude the City's immunity from suit was not waived, we reverse the trial court's judgment and render judgment dismissing this cause for want of jurisdiction.

         Background

         The Hays Street Bridge is a historical landmark in San Antonio.[1] Around 1982, the City closed the bridge to vehicular and pedestrian traffic due to its deteriorated condition. Thereafter, discussions about demolishing the bridge and either replacing or relocating it began. In response, a number of community groups and leaders formed what is now known as the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group - the Group. The Group's goal was to restore and ultimately preserve the bridge for community use. Its members worked together with various engineers and architects to produce design concepts and gather construction estimates in an effort to raise money to restore the bridge.

         In 2000, the Group entered into discussions with the City about the restoration project, and according to the Group, these discussions included conversations about not only restoring the bridge, but also developing the Cherry Street Property into a park. The Cherry Street Property consists of 1.7 acres and is located near the northeast side of the bridge. At the time the development discussions occurred, the Dawson family owned the Cherry Street Property.

         It is undisputed that the City, with the help of the Group, applied for a federally-funded, state-administered grant under the Transportation Equity Act to restore the bridge. The application for the grant was approved, and the City received $2.89 million for the bridge restoration project, which funded eighty percent of the total project cost. Under the terms of the grant, the City was required to provide twenty percent of the total project cost - either in cash or in-kind contributions.

         Before the City formally accepted the funding, the City and the Group executed the Memorandum, outlining the parties' responsibilities with regard to fund raising for the project. The Memorandum provided that the Group, via the San Antonio Area Foundation, was responsible for "[c]ontinu[ing] to raise matching funds through grant applications and other private resources" and timely transferring such funds to the City. In exchange, the City was responsible for "[e]nsur[ing] that any funds generated by [the Group] for the Hays Street Bridge go directly to the approved City of San Antonio budget, as authorized by TxDOT [Texas Department of Transportation], for the Hays Street Bridge project costs via the San Antonio Area Foundation's Hays Street Bridge Restoration Fund."

         Once the Memorandum was executed, the Group focused on raising funds - both in cash and in-kind contributions - to fulfill its obligation under the Memorandum. Its efforts included obtaining the Cherry Street Property for park use. In 2007, the Dawsons donated the Cherry Street Property to the City and the City subsequently sold the property to Alamo Beer Company for commercial use. According to the City, the property was not part of the Hays Street Bridge project; rather, the bridge project was solely for purposes of restoring the bridge, not for developing a park. The City further contended that although park development was not part of the project, it submitted a second application seeking state funding for the development of the Cherry Street Property for park use. However, the second application was denied.

         When the Group discovered the Cherry Street Property had been sold to Alamo Beer Company, the Group sued the City, alleging the City breached its contract - the Memorandum - by failing to develop the Cherry Street Property into a park as part of the restoration project. It is undisputed that as damages, the Group sought only specific performance. The Group also sought a declaration that the City violated section 253.001(f) of the Texas Local Government Code ("the Code") when it contracted to sell the property to Alamo Beer Company because the property was "held, owned or claimed" as a park within the meaning of the statute. See Tex. Loc. Gov't Code Ann. § 253.001(f) (West 2016).

         The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that to the extent the Memorandum was a contract, its immunity from suit had not been waived because the Local Government Contract Claims Act ("the Act"), codified in the Code, does not provide for a waiver of immunity from suit for claims seeking specific performance. Id. §§ 271.152, 271.153. In response, the Group argued claims seeking specific performance do not preclude waiver of immunity from suit as set out in the Act. Id. § 271.152. The trial court ultimately denied the City's plea to the jurisdiction as well as its subsequent motion for summary judgment, and the parties tried the case to a jury.

         Once the Group completed its presentation of evidence, the City moved for a directed verdict, a motion that essentially mirrored its prior plea to the jurisdiction and summary judgment motion. The trial court denied the motion for directed verdict, and the jury ultimately found: (1) the parties agreed to the terms of the Memorandum; (2) the word "funds" in the Memorandum included both money and in-kind donations; (3) the Cherry Street Property was subject to the terms of the Memorandum; and (4) the City failed to comply with the terms of the Memorandum with respect to the Cherry Street Property. The trial ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.