Beck Redden Obtains Appellate Win for City of Houston

  • May 9, 2013

The Firm won an appeal in Houston’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals regarding a dispute over who must bear the cost of relocating telecommunications equipment attached to a bridge spanning Brays Bayou. As part of a flood damage reduction project, the Harris County Flood Control District planned to rebuild thirty City-owned bridges, to which the equipment is attached. The telecommunications provider that owns the equipment took the position that the Flood Control District must bear the cost of moving the equipment, while the City and the Flood Control District asserted that the provider should bear responsibility. The provider also challenged the City’s reliance upon its relocation ordinance, which it invoked to direct the provider to move its equipment. The case turned on the interpretation of a provision in the Texas Water Code that requires the Flood Control District to pay for relocation of equipment under certain conditions. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment in the trial court. The trial court denied the provider’s motion and granted the City’s and the Flood Control District’s motions.

AT&T appealed, and Houston's Fourteenth Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court’s rulings. In doing so, the court adopted the City’s statutory interpretation. Lead counsel in the trial and appellate courts was Beck Redden partner Geoff Gannaway.  Beck Redden partner Connie Pfeiffer co-authored the appellate brief. The case is styled Southwestern Bell Telephone, L.P. d/b/a AT&T Texas v. City of Houston, et al.,No. 14-11-01115-CV.