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
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.