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Severance v. Patterson

Supreme Court of Texas
370 S.W. 3d 705 (2012)


Carol Severance (plaintiff) purchased a beachfront lot, including a home, on Galveston Island’s West Beach in April of 2005. At the time of purchase, there was a public easement on a portion of the beach of the property. The easement was on the sea-side of the vegetation line. There was no easement on the property inland of the vegetation line. Several months after the purchase, Hurricane Rita hit Galveston Island. As a result of the hurricane, the vegetation line moved inland substantially. After the hurricane, Severance’s home was seaward of the vegetation line. The State of Texas (defendant) then claimed that Severance’s home was located on a public beachfront easement and a portion of her home interfered with the easement. The State then tried to enforce the easement pursuant to the Ocean Beaches Act. Severance filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that the State did not have an easement on her property and that the State was violating the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The Federal Court of Appeals certified to the Supreme Court of Texas the question of whether Texas recognizes a rolling public beachfront access easement.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wainwright, J.)

Dissent (Lehrmann, J.)

Dissent (Guzman, J.)

Dissent (Medina, J.)

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