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Lawyers Trust Company v. City of Houston

Supreme Court of Texas
359 S.W.2d 887 (1962)


In 1926, W.T. Carter Lumber & Building Company (W.T. Carter) executed an instrument that plotted several tracts to be used for parks and other public services within the City of Houston (the city) (defendant). The instrument maintained that if any of the tracts were not still being used for public purposes after 25 years, fee title to those tracts would vest back to W.T. Carter. The tract in this case was used as a public park until 1944. Lawyers Trust Company (Lawyers Trust) (plaintiff) later acquired W.T. Carter’s interest in the tracts. In 1959, Lawyers Trust sued the City of Houston, arguing that the original deed created a fee simple determinable. Under this theory, because the tract had ceased being used for public property at the end of the 25 years, ownership of the tract automatically would have reverted back to Lawyers Trust at that time. Thus, Lawyers Trust believed it was entitled to recover the property. The city argued that that the deed instead created a condition subsequent. Under this theory, Lawyers Trust only had a right of reentry in 1951. The city further argued Lawyers Trust had waived this right of reentry by waiting until 1959 to exercise it. The trial court granted judgment for Lawyers Trust, but was reversed by the appeals court. Lawyers Trust appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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