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Ashby plaintiffs score a win

Most of them, anyway.

Sue me!

A Harris County jury sided with residents of a neighborhood near Rice University and awarded some of them damages totaling close to $1.7 million in their fight to keep developers from building a 21-story high-rise in their midst.

The jury’s unanimous verdict Tuesday ended the month-long trial over a lawsuit filed by 30 residents from the affluent neighborhood against the developers of 1717 Bissonnet, the project widely known as the Ashby high-rise.

The 12-person jury awarded the damages to 20 of the nearby households if the high-rise is built, agreeing that it’s the wrong project on the wrong site. Only those within about one block of the high-rise were awarded damages.

State district Judge Randy Wilson will hold a separate hearing to rule whether to let the project go forward. No date was set, but it will likely be after Jan. 1.


Developer Matthew Morgan of Buckhead Investment Partners was shocked by the jury’s decision and said it may have widespread fallout on development in the city.

“We are kind of dismayed by the decision of this jury and are hopeful this court will allow us to move forward with the project,” Morgan said. “This is a dark day for the future of the real estate development business, not just in Houston but in the entire state of Texas.”

The developers said they will appeal.

See here for who was awarded what; here, here, here, and here for my blogging about the trial; and here for the Prime Property coverage. I’m more than a little surprised that the jury awarded damages to the plaintiffs, but I’ll be really surprised if that stands up on appeal, and that’s without taking the Supreme Court’s anti-plaintiff bias into account. First we’ll see if the judge lets the construction go on as planned or if he moves to block it. If he lets it proceed, we might see appeals from both parties. And here I thought this was coming to some kind of conclusion.

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  1. Mel says:

    I don’t understand the surprise at the verdict. A person’s home is their castle and although the development might have been “permitted “, that does not resolve the issue of whether it is a nuisance to the surrounding property owners. The take away here is yes, you can build what you want, but remember that your property rights are literally touching and affect the property rights of those around you, including their quiet and enjoyment and if you trespass or take that, you’ve got to pay. You break it, you buy it.

  2. David G says:

    Mel, the thing is no damage has been done yet. What they are in effect suing for is what they assume the damage might be in the future. That is what is so bizarre.

    This lawsuit was never about compensation in the first place anyways. It’s goal is and has always been about trying to block the project altogether.