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City of Lubbock, Texas v. Coyote Lake Ranch, LLC

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20139
Nos. 07-14-00006-CV, (Tex. Ct. App., 06/17/2014)

A Texas appellate court reversed a lower court decision enjoining a city from undertaking certain activities relating to further development of its proposed water well plan on a landowner's property. The city owns the groundwater rights under the landowner's property, and in 2012 it proposed a well field plan and began testing and development under that plan. The landowner filed suit, arguing that its surface rights were protected under the "accommodation doctrine," a well-established concept in the context of respective rights of mineral estate and surface estate owners. The lower court agreed and issued a temporary injunction. But the accommodation doctrine does not apply to the groundwater context where, as here, neither the remaining surface estate nor the severed groundwater estate enjoys the status as the dominant estate. Absent a dominant estate, the owner of the groundwater estate has no implied right to use the surface estate with "due regard." The landowner therefore failed to allege a viable cause of action against the city and similarly failed to show a probable right to the relief sought. The lower court's temporary injunction, therefore, was dissolved.