CASE DETAILS: CITY OF DALLAS v. VSC, LLC; from Dallas County; 5th district (05-05-01227-CV, 242 SW3d
The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and renders judgment.
Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Justice
David Medina, Justice Paul W. Green, Justice Don R. Willett, and Justice Debra Lehrmann joined. [pdf]
Justice Dale Wainwright delivered a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Phil Johnson and Justice Eva M. Guzman
Here is the link to e-briefs in case no. 08-0265 CITY OF DALLAS v. VSC, LLC
CASE INFO AND HISTORY FROM DOCKET DB: Case 08-0265
City of Dallas v. VSC, LLC (Tex. 2011)(Chief Justice Jefferson)
FULL TEXT OF OPINION [ coming soon ] or go to Court's website following the docket number link
EXCERPTs FROM OPINION IN THE COURT OF APPEALS BELOW (Dallas Court of Appeals)
242 S.W.3d 584 (2008)
CITY OF DALLAS, Texas, Appellant
VSC, LLC, Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.
January 4, 2008.
Charles Estee, Dallas, for Appellant.
James C. Mosser, Mosser Mallers PLLC Lawyers, Dallas, for Appellee.
Before Justices MOSELEY, FITZGERALD, and FRANCIS.
OPINION ON REHEARING
Opinion by Justice FITZGERALD.
This Court's opinion of June 21, 2006 is withdrawn and our judgment of that date 589*589 is vacated. The following is now the
opinion of this Court.
The City of Dallas, Texas appeals the denial of its plea to the jurisdiction in VSC, LLC's suit alleging the City took its property
without just compensation and seeking declaratory judgment. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE ANN. § 51.014(a)(8) (Vernon
Supp. 2007). We affirm in part and reverse and dismiss in part.
In 2002, VSC operated a licensed vehicle storage facility, which authorized it to receive and store vehicles towed without the
consent of their owners. TEX. OCC.CODE ANN. §§ 2303.001-.303 (Vernon 2004 & Supp.2007). VSC alleged Dallas police officers,
with the approval, authorization, and direction of the City's policy makers, came onto VSC's property at various times and seized
277 vehicles. The officers asserted the vehicles either had been reported stolen, had altered serial numbers, or were involved in
other felony offenses. See TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. § 501.158 (Vernon 2007). VSC, however, alleged that these vehicles were
not part of any criminal action or investigation when they were towed, when they arrived at VSC's storage facility, or when the police
seized them. VSC alleged the City disposed of these vehicles without notifying VSC and that the City retained all funds collected
from the disposition of the seized vehicles. VSC alleged it had "a legitimate and recognized property interest" in the seized vehicles
that the City destroyed through the disposition of the vehicles without notice to VSC.
VSC sued the City in state court alleging several state and federal causes of action. The City removed the case to federal district
court. At VSC's request, the federal court remanded three of the causes of action to the state court and abated the remaining
federal claims until disposition of the state-court litigation. Two of the causes of action alleged the City's seizure and subsequent
disposition of the vehicles without notice to VSC was a constitutional "taking" of VSC's property interest in the vehicles and violated
VSC's right to just compensation under article one, section seventeen of the Texas Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. The third cause of action sought a declaratory judgment that (1) VSC is entitled to
towing and storage fees for vehicles lawfully towed and stored at VSC's licensed storage facility even if the vehicles are reported
stolen; (2) the City lacks authority to seize vehicles as stolen when VSC is entitled to towing and storage fees for those vehicles;
and (3) even if the City is authorized to seize the vehicles from VSC's licensed storage facility, VSC is entitled to notice and a
hearing under chapter 47 of the code of criminal procedure before the City disposes of the vehicles.
The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting the trial court lacked jurisdiction over these claims. The trial court denied the plea
to the jurisdiction. The City now brings this interlocutory appeal. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE ANN. § 51.014(a)(8).
We sustain the City's first issue in part and overrule it in part. We reverse the trial court's order to the extent it denied the City's plea
to the jurisdiction to VSC's claim for taking for "private purpose," and we order that claim dismissed for want of jurisdiction. In all
other respects, we affirm the trial court's order denying the City's plea to the jurisdiction.
Also see: Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
City of Dallas v. VSC, LLC (Tex. 2011),
No. 08-0265 (Tex. Jul. 1, 2011)
(Opinion by Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson)
(takings claim against government precluded given existence
of statutory remedy)
THE GIST: We expect our government to retrieve stolen
property and return it to the rightful owner. What happens,
though, when a person claims an interest in property the
government has seized? In this case, the City of Dallas
seized vehicles, which it alleged were stolen, from a company
that was entitled to petition for their return. See Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 47.01a(a). Instead of pursuing its statutory
remedy, the company sued, alleging that its interest in those
vehicles had been taken without just compensation. We hold
that the availability of the statutory remedy precludes a
takings claim. We reverse the court of appeals’ judgment
and render judgment dismissing this suit.
Conclusion. VSC received all of the process to which it was
entitled. A party cannot claim a lack of just compensation
based on its own failure to invoke a law designed to
adjudicate such a claim. We reverse the court of appeals’
judgment and render judgment dismissing the case. Tex. R.
App. P. 60.2(c).