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Federal court refuses to throw out Open Beaches lawsuit

I hadn’t realized that there was federal court action on the Galveston open beaches case.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by the General Land office that it throw out the case because the beachfront house at the heart of the lawsuit had been sold.

The three-judge panel’s decision keeps alive a case challenging the constitutionality of the Texas Open Beaches Act.

The Land Office had asked the court to rule the case was moot because the San Diego attorney who filed it, Carol Severance, had sold her rental property to the city of Galveston under a federally funded program aimed at homes that flooded repeatedly.

The two-paragraph opinion by appellate judges Edith Jones, Jacques Wiener Jr. and Edith Clement said that Severance could be subject to penalties even though she sold her house, and therefore could maintain her lawsuit.

The “briefing persuades us that under Texas law, Carol Severance remains exposed to potential liability for alleged violations of the Texas Open Beaches Act,” the opinion reads. The opinion is unpublished and does not say whether the denial was unanimous or who wrote it.

“The effect of this is it allows Ms. Severance to continue her crusade to destroy the Open Beaches Act,” said Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam.

The Land Office has asked the State Supreme Court to reconsider its decision based on the fact that Severance sold the property in question. No word on when that might happen.

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