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Oak Lawn Apartments, Ltd. v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

January 11, 2018

OAK LAWN APARTMENTS, LTD. APPELLANT
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS APPELLEE

          FROM COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 3 OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO. 2016-000101-3

          PANEL: WALKER and PITTMAN, JJ., and CHARLES BLEIL (Senior Justice, Retired, Sitting by Assignment).

          OPINION

          SUE WALKER JUSTICE

         I. Introduction

         This is an appeal from a condemnation proceeding. See Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 21.063 (West 2014). In a single issue, Appellant Oak Lawn Apartments, Ltd. argues that the trial court erred by entering a final judgment on the special commissioners' award over Oak Lawn's objection. Because we hold that the statements in Oak Lawn's "Motion To Withdraw Award Of Special Commissioners" do not constitute a statement of objections to the special commissioners' award, and that, thus, the underlying administrative proceeding was never converted into a judicial proceeding over which we have jurisdiction, we will dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction.

         II. Procedural Background

         Appellee The State of Texas filed a petition for condemnation seeking to acquire fee simple title to the land and improvements owned by Oak Lawn and others[1] so that the State, acting by and through the Texas Transportation Commission, could widen, straighten, or extend State Highway 360. The trial court appointed three disinterested real property owners residing in Tarrant County to serve as special commissioners. The special commissioners held a hearing to assess the damages for the acquisition of the property through eminent domain and issued an award for $2, 034, 432.00. The State thereafter deposited the amount of the award into the county court at law's registry.

         Nineteen days after the special commissioners filed their findings and issued the award, Oak Lawn filed a "Motion To Withdraw Award Of Special Commissioners." The body of the motion, in its entirety, is set forth as follows:

         TO THE HONORABLE JUDGE OF SAID COURT:

NOW COMES Defendant, OAK LAWN APARTMENTS LTD, in the above-styled and numbered condemnation proceeding and files this Motion to Withdraw the Award of Special Commissioners deposited in the registry of the Court, as follows:
I.
Upon proper notice to all parties, the Special Commissioners Hearing was held on April 21, 2016. The Special Commissioners awarded $2, 034, 432.00 as adequate compensation for the condemnation of this property, which was filed with the court on May 11, 2016. Objections were filed by Defendant to the Award of the Special Commissioners.
II.
On May 11, 2016, Plaintiff, the State of Texas, deposited the Award of the Special Commissioners into the Registry of this Court in the amount of TWO MILLION THIRTY[-]FOUR THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY[-]TWO DOLLARS and NO/100 DOLLARS ($2, 034, 432.00). Although the parties have not yet agreed to a final compensable amount, ...

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