A jury ruled on Monday that the Edwards Aquifer Authority owes $2.5 million in compensation to the Braggs because groundwater permit denials resulted in a regulatory taking.
For those of you who might not have been following along, the Braggs filed suit against the EAA back in 2004 after they were denied permits to pump groundwater to irrigate their pecan orchards. The trial court found in favor of the Braggs initially–agreeing that the denials constituted a regulatory taking of the Bragg’s property interest in groundwater–and awarded $732,493.40. Both sides appealed this verdict and in 2013, the San Antonio Court of Appeals upheld the takings ruling, but found that damages were improperly calculated by the trial court. Specifically, the Court of Appeals ruled that the proper method of calculating compensation due was to compare the value of the property before the taking and after the taking, and awarding the difference. [To read a full blog post on this decision, click here.] Last year, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case on appeal. [Read blog post here.] In light of that, the Court of Appeals decision stands, and the case was sent back to the trial court to properly calculate compensation owed based on that ruling.
Last week, a jury trial was held on what amount the EAA owed to the Braggs. On Monday, the jury came back with the $2.5 million award. The EAA argued the correct amount due should be $75,000, while the Braggs argued it should be $4.4 million. When interest if factored in to the verdict, the amount will be over $4 million. An appeal could be forthcoming, although neither side has announced its decision on that front as of yet. [Read article here.]