Apparently, the original litigant no longer owns the house in question.
San Diego, Calif., attorney Carol Severance, who brought the lawsuit challenging the Open Beaches Act, sold the storm-battered property last week to the city of Galveston. Money for the purchase came from a Federal Emergency Management Agency buyout program for homes in areas prone to repeated flooding to ensure that nothing is built there again.
The Texas General Land Office sent a letter to the court last week arguing that the opinion issued in November favoring Severance is no longer relevant now that the house has been sold.
“Vacating the opinion would avoid confusion and unnecessary litigation about what that decision means,” Land Office spokesman Paul Sturrock said.
The Land Office noted that Severance had said in filings to the Supreme Court that she would delay selling the house until the case was resolved.
Severance sold the house at 22716 Kennedy Drive for $335,686. The property, badly damaged by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, was valued at $202,720 for tax purposes before the storm. The 2010 tax value was $1,690.
You can see what kind of hardship the poor woman has suffered as a result of all this. The Court was originally asked to reconsider its ruling in December; it agreed to rehear arguments in March, and actually heard them in April. As Burka points out, if they vacate their ruling they’re not addressing the merits of the original case, they’re simply saying it didn’t count. The issues would remain to be determined again by the Court if and when a future litigant came along.