The Court of Appeals has issued its first-ever (so far as 600 Commerce is aware) decision in a case with its own Wikipedia page. The City of Carrolton annexed a portion of a privately owned airfield, then issued a new ordinance to regulate it. The city then ordered the airport to be closed based on violations of the ordinance, which led the nearby homeowners to sue the city in an attempt to invalidate the ordinance and the closure order, plus an additional lawsuit against the owners of the airport for failing to bring it into compliance with the ordinance. The homeowners prevailed on both summary judgment and in a jury trial, and the Court of Appeals largely affirmed, albeit on a modified basis.
Among other things, the Court’s 48-page opinion held that the ordinance was not a valid exercise of the city’s police power because it did not require notice to the homeowners whose easements burdened the airport property, thereby depriving them of due process. The ordinance was also determined to be unconstitutionally vague, as its use of the term “owner” was ambiguous and its reference to TXDOT’s Model Rules and Regulations did not provide sufficient guidance to tell the “owner” of the airport how it should be operated. The owners of the airport also could not escape judgment on the jury’s verdict merely because the judge retired after the trial and his successor issued the final judgment, nor were they successful in their attempt to inject the Noer-Pennington antitrust doctrine into breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims. The Court remanded the case to the district court for consideration of additional issues based on the Court’s modifications of the trial court’s rulings.
Noell v. City of Carrolton, No. 05-11-01377-CV