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Tenison Park

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Furnished by Atty. James Murphy, counsel for Plaintiffs.  Tenison Park was donated to the city with specific deed restrictions that it would be a public park for the enjoyment of Dallas citizens.  The city has turned much of the park into a for-profit golf course where Dallas citizens are prohibited from walking if they have not paid green fees.  The city's attorneys, including Bond Atty. Ray Hutchinson (the Senator's spouse), maintain that no citizen can sue the city to force the city to follow state regulations and/or restrictions and apparently take that philosophy regarding deed restrictions on charitable gifts.  Under that thinking, the name of the Meyerson might be changed at some point in the future to another high bidder.  Wouldn't that just be a kick in Ross, Sr.'s little rear?

Information Release


RE:    Ann Tenison Hereford Webb, et. al. v. City of Dallas, Texas
         United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

Tenison Park Lawsuit

On Appeal by the City of Dallas of the District Court?s denial of City?s Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Sovereign Immunity

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ? New Orleans, LA

Recently, the City of Dallas appealed the decision of United States District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer that denied the City?s claim that the Tenison heirs could not sue the City of Dallas for breach of the Tenison deed restrictions because of sovereign immunity from suit. The City claimed that nobody could sue it for breach of the Tenison deed restrictions, neither heirs or citizens, and therefore it was beyond the reach of anybody for its wrongful conduct.

On November 6, 2002, oral argument was held on the City?s appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana, before a panel consisting of Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King, Patrick E. Higginbothem and E. Grady Jolly.

During the presentation by the City?s attorney, Chief Judge King asked the City?s attorney whether he had the authority of the Dallas City Manager to argue that no matter what the City had done with the Tenison property, it could not be sued to enforce the deed restrictions that Mr. & Mrs. Tenison placed on the use of the property. "Is this really the position that you want to take and that we are to rule on? We three judges understand that you want to continue to maintain your claim of sovereign immunity. Now ? you are instructed to go back to your boss [city manager] and confirm that you [the City of Dallas] want to continue to maintain this position. We really don?t think this is what the City wants to do. And if our understanding of this is incorrect, you are to get back to us immediately."

The judges on the panel of the Court commented on the consequences of the City?s position if the Dallas Morning News were to report that the City of Dallas maintains a position that it is not bound by its contracts and that it can take charitable gifts of property with conditions on them and then breach them with impunity and nobody could sue to enforce them. The judges speculated that if the Dallas public at large was aware of this position then future gifts to the city such as property for concert halls [the Meyerson Center was mentioned] and museums would "dry up."

To date the City of Dallas has not gotten back to the Judges of the Court of Appeals expressing a desire to change its position and thus it is continuing to maintain that it can breach its contracts and never be sued for its conduct.

November 27, 2002.






  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8