Eager to spark the socialist revolution, left-wing activists seized Ramsett Park and the surrounding area and declared an independent autonomous community dedicated to social and economic justice. The activists threw up barricades and excluded both the police and the “bourgeoisie” owners of businesses surrounding the park. Fearing a primary challenge, Mayor Gunderson ordered the police to withdraw from the area except for life-or-death situations. As days turned into weeks, the area reverted to a Hobbesian state, with violence increasing and refuge accumulating in the street. Mayor Gunderson belatedly ordered the area cleared. When the business owners returned, they found their buildings vandalized and their property stolen or destroyed. They look to hold someone responsible. But the activists have disappeared, and, in any event, hippies are notoriously judgment proof. Can Mayor Gunderson and the City be held liable for not enforcing the law?
Continue Reading Dereliction of Duty: Can Local Governments Be Liable for Not Protecting Property from Protestors?

The Lillian Corporation purchases a vacant and dilapidated office building with plans to demolish it and build luxury condos. Only one thing stands in the way: a mural on the side of the building painted years earlier by a well-known local artist, Phillip Semenko. The mural is renowned and become a popular destination for tourists. After learning of the Lillian Corporation’s plans, Semenko threatens to sue to stop the development. Will Semenko succeed or is this just another case of artistic temperament?

Continue Reading Painting over Property Rights: The Effect of the Visual Artists Rights Act on Real-Estate Development

open sign on business door

Reeling from months of governmental orders that required all restaurants to close their doors, Chez Quis was elated to re-open and welcome back its diners, even at a reduced capacity. But elation quickly turned to despair when Chez Quis learned that one of its longtime customers, Abe Froman, had sued the restaurant for allegedly contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) while dining there. Has Chez Quis jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Continue Reading Stay Shut Down or Be Sued? The Risk to Your Business from COVID-19 Premises-Liability Claims

Closed sign. (Sorry we are closed)

Wanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win?
Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Trigger a Force Majeure Defense?

Woman hangs a card with information about the store closing on a shop window due to the coronavirusWanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win?
Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Make a Contract Impossible to Perform?

magnificent 21 point red deer stag rated at 430 SCI, West Coast, South Island, New ZealandReleasing an image of a pickup truck closely resembling I.M. Steelin’s, Texas Parks and Wildlife investigators believe a red stag deer was shot by I.M. Steelin over the Thanksgiving weekend. The exotic, tame, breeding, red deer bull “Rudolph” was found decapitated on Bragg Schtag’s sprawling Red Bull Ranch – a large hunting ranch with a high-fence on a remote road in northwest Burnet County. Facing a string of charges, including a potential third-degree felony for poaching, can I.M. Steelin really be jailed for poaching from a county road? Can Schtag sue Steelin for damages?
Continue Reading Poaching Santa’s Reindeer – What’s the Penalty for Poaching Your Neighbor’s Red Stag?

tornado over the house (3d rendering)Henry Gale was having difficulty leasing his modest four-bedroom house in North Dallas. But his fortunes changed when multiple tornadoes blew through the city in late October, damaging multiple nearby homes. Suddenly faced with several offers, Henry doubled his rental rate and signed a twelve-month lease with the Diggs, a family whose home was undergoing a lengthy restoration due to tornado damage. But Henry’s elation turns to despair the next month when the Diggs sue him for “price gouging.” Are dark skies ahead for Henry?
Continue Reading Price Gouging Law in Texas: How it Works and How it Backfires

Years ago, Quicey Morris’s father bought the family ranch near Amarillo from Jonathan and Mina Harker. Having not heard from either until last week, Quicey was surprised when Mina showed up with a small urn and an unusual request. Mina explained that Jonathan’s last wish was for his ashes to be buried at the tree he planted on the ranch- his happiest years were spent there. Are private cemeteries legal in Texas? How would an urn affect Morris and his family ranch?
Continue Reading Dying to Get In: Cemeteries on Private Property

Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux’s favorite old, majestic cypress tree “Cyrus” has a wide draping canopy near his property line adjoining his neighbor Sonny Gap. Gap recently complained that the roots and the canopy are growing into his property; that the roots have grown into his foundation and around the gas meter and pipes; and that some of the roots are growing into knees above-ground making walking in this area tricky. Plus, his wife thinks the tree is hideous. Can Gap make Big Daddy cut down the tree? Can Gap hire someone to cut it down? If not, can Gap just poison the roots on his property?
Continue Reading When Can You Cut Down Your Neighbor’s Messy, Root-Invasive Tree?