MN Austin Property

Appellate attorney Mike Northrup successfully defended a district court ruling in an inverse condemnation lawsuit.

The dispute involves a suit brought against the City of Austin by a commercial property owner alleging that the City materially and substantially impaired access to a prime corner lot when the City made street improvements that eliminated public access to the lot. The property owner’s suit claims that the limited access amounts to an unconstitutional “taking” of property. The City responded to the suit by asserting that it enjoys immunity. Whether the City is immune from the claim depends upon whether the City’s street repairs materially and substantially impair access to the property. Based upon evidence presented by the property owner showing that access for some vehicles is now impossible and for other vehicles, it is quite dangerous, a district judge ruled that the City is not immune from the claim.

The City appealed from the district court’s ruling. The Austin Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling. The court’s opinion references the testimony of the property owner’s traffic engineer and includes a number of pictures, graphs, and illustrations showing the impairment to vehicular access. The court of appeals ultimately concluded that the property owner’s evidence raised a fact issue as to whether the City’s access impairment was substantial and material. The appellate court agreed with the district court that the property owner had met its burden to show that there is a fact issue as to whether the City materially and substantially impaired access, and to the extent the City did impair access, it is not immune.

Co-counsel with Mr. Northrup on this appeal included Brad Jackson, Cheryl Mann, and Patrick Fang—all with the Law Offices of Brad Jackson.


Avatar of Mike Northrup
Mike Northrup is a Shareholder and Section Head of the Cowles and Thompson Appellate Practice Group. He practices in both the trial and appellate courts in cases involving personal injury, insurance issues, employment law, commercial disputes, and zoning disputes. He also provides litigation support to attorneys in other sections of the firm. Mike served as a briefing attorney for former Chief Justice Thomas R. Phillips, Texas Supreme Court, 1988-89. He has taught as an adjunct professor at Hastings College of Law and SMU Dedman School of Law. He is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.