Updated April 7, 2023 - TRA Newswire -
Update: Beckham Portela Trial Law, the Dallas-based attorneys representing a property owner in Calvin House vs.Texas Central Railroad cancelled Friday's court hearing within hours of their appearance. TRA understands it was due to the sole witness for the plaintiff being out of the country. Attorneys for Texas Central indicated that they believe that the case before the court is very weak.
Original article - April 2, 2023 - TRA Newswire -
Opponents of a proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston are taking Texas Central Railroad to court, yet again, this time to find out the current status of the high-speed rail line proposed between Dallas and Houston.
Calvin House, a landowner who is opposed to the rail project, filed a motion in Dallas County's 298th Judicial District Court to compel Texas Central to divulge information about the project status. The railroad has been mostly silent since mid-2022 when the reins of the company were turned over to Michael Bui of Houston, who specializes in financial advisory and corporate restructuring.
The courtroom drama may determine if Texas Central is obligated to provide sworn answers about the status of the project to landowners and opponents. Last September, attorneys for property owners asked Texas Central to update them if the high-speed rail line was moving forward.
Cause #DC-23-01174 will be heard Friday, April 7 at 10:30am in 298th District Court in Dallas by Judge Emily Tobolowsky. Texas Central has retained lead attorney Robert Neblett to represent them. In a response to the filing, Neblett said that the opponents are simply trying to relitigate the case, which had already been decided by the Texas Supreme Court.
The high-speed railroad company had previously maneuvered through years of legal battles for the right to pursue eminent domain on a narrow strip of land needed to build 240 miles of track and infrastructure between Dallas and Houston. Starting just after the rail line was announced in 2014 and Texas Central started to acquire land rights, the company has been dragged through local, district and state courts by unhappy landowners and fiery opponents. Claims appeared in the media of the company being owned by Japanese interests, since the trains would be similar to the high-speed Shinkansen consists that travel over 200 miles per hour. Texas Central countered that the railroad was a U.S. company with deep Texas roots.
Texas Central was stymied for two years during the pandemic and waited months for the Texas Supreme Court to rule in their favor on the ability to obtain needed land rights under state law. It was those issues and others, such as CEO Carols Aguilar and board members resigning in 2022, that stopped forward progress on the massive project. Foreign and domestic investors concerned over the years of delays may have led to the company going into hibernation while it regroups.
Landowners claim that they want to move on with their lives if the project will not be completed and be able to sell or develop property on or near the line. KBTX-TV, in Bryan-College Station, interviewed Dallas Attorney Patrick McShan with Beckham Portela Trial Law, who said landowners and the public deserve answers about the project’s future. “You can’t plan around uncertainty and these people don’t know what’s going on. There’s no schedule, there’s no indication of what Texas Centrals plans are. these people want to know what is going on with the project,” says McShan.
In late March, some 70 property owners went to Austin to lobby lawmakers to stop the high-speed train project from moving forward. This followed five bills filed during the current legislative session, as in previous years, to stop the rail line from being built. This go-round, Texas House bills 366, 2357, 2391, 3870 and 4551 ranged from making Texas Central disclose proprietary information about the project, return the property to landowners if the project is not completed within a specific timeframe and to make sure the project does not harm the quality of drinking water.
Photo credit: Texas Central