Andrew Morriss on Eminent Domain

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – ICLE Academic Affiliate Andrew Morriss was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a story about the State of Texas’ use of eminent domain to seize a developer’s 5,000-acre property. You can read full piece here.

Under eminent domain laws, entities including the state government can seize private property if it is for the public benefit. Andrew Morriss, a professor at Texas A&M’s School of Law and The Bush School of Government and Public Service, said that a state park is firmly within the scope of the public benefit.

“It’s like one of the obvious examples that are used in textbooks,” Morriss said. “Highways, parks, firehouses — that’s what eminent domain is for.”

…“The only thing he can argue with the state about is how much they have to pay him for the property,” Morriss said. “There’s no way he can stop them from taking the property.”

…Morriss, the A&M professor, said that the state is only required to pay a fair market price for Todd’s property. There may be some wiggle room for Todd to argue that he should also be reimbursed money that he’s invested into the property, or any money he spent to improve the property. But because Todd Interests purchased the land so recently, it’s already clear how much it’s worth on the market.

“The starting point for the discussion would be how much he paid,” Morriss said. “I think it’s very likely the state will pay him what he paid, possibly plus a little bit more to make up for expenses that he’s incurred.”