Hubenak v. San Jacinto Gas Transmission Co – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Hubenak v. San Jacinto Gas Transmission Co.,65 S.W.3d 791 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 2001), the landowners appealed from an adverse condemnation judgment, arguing that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the condemnor had failed to show that it was unable to agree with the landowners on damages, which, they argued, was a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing suit. Id. at 796.

Although the judgment was rendered on cross-motions for summary judgment, we determined that the proper standard of review for determining whether the unable-to-agree jurisdictional requisite had been satisfied was legal sufficiency of the evidence. Id. at 797-98.

That is, the Court deemed the trial court implicitly to have made a plenary factual determination that the condemnor had satisfied this jurisdictional prerequisite, even though the procedural mechanism for that ruling was summary judgment. See id. at 798.

The Court then looked for more than a scintilla of evidence in the summary judgment record to support the implied ruling. See id.

Of course, that standard of review is generally the inverse of the standard applicable to a summary judgment ruling.