City of Carrollton v. Singer

In City of Carrollton v. Singer, 232 S.W.3d 790 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 2007, pet. denied), the City notified the Singers that it needed to acquire a portion of their property to extend a road. See Singer, 232 S.W.3d at 792-93. The Singers agreed to convey a right of way to the City in exchange for the City's agreement to perform certain promises. Id. The Singers later sued the City for breach of the agreement. Id. at 794. The trial court denied the City's plea to the jurisdiction. Id. On appeal, the Singers argued that the "City is not immune from suit in this instance because the agreement between the parties was, in essence, a settlement of an eminent domain claim, for which the City has no immunity by virtue of the Texas Constitution." Id. at 795. The Fort Worth Court agreed with the Singers. According to the Court, "An agreement to convey property to a governmental authority for a public purpose has the same effect as a formal condemnation proceeding." Id. at 798. "Even though the City had not yet instituted condemnation proceedings against the Singers in court, it intentionally acquired the Singers' land for the public purpose of extending a road, for which a municipality is statutorily authorized to institute condemnation proceedings...and it had performed a condition precedent to instituting eminent domain proceedings in court--negotiating with the Singers for adequate compensation." Id. at 799. "If the Singers had not reached a settlement agreement with the City, the City would have had to institute eminent domain proceedings against them to acquire the land." Id. The City "exposed itself to liability and suit by its threat of eminent domain proceedings." Id. at 800 . "The City could not create immunity from suit for the Singers' claim for adequate compensation by contracting to purchase their property at an agreed upon valuation in fulfillment of the condition precedent to filing an eminent domain proceeding in court as set forth in the property code." Id. The Fort Worth Court held that the City was not immune from suit because the agreement was a "settlement of an eminent domain proceeding in which the Singers would have a claim against the City for adequate compensation for the City's acquisition of their property, and for which the City would not be immune." Id.