United States: Major Defense Turning Point Reached in Ad Valorem Property Tax Cases
Last Updated: September 2 2004

Texas — Last week, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Shell and other major oil and gas companies with properties in Texas reached a major turning point in their battle against claims from various taxing units across the state alleging fraud in ad valorem property tax valuations. Because of the taxing units' contention that no statute of limitations could bar the claims, the potential liability is incalculable.

Due to a recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court that district courts must not interfere with the jurisdiction of separate administrative branches of government, the Amarillo Court of Appeals granted a Writ of Mandamus directing the trial court to vacate an order overruling the defendant energy companies' pleas to the jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals agreed that district courts were interfering with the jurisdiction of the various appraisal districts. On August 27, the day after the Appeals’ Court ruling, Harris County District Court Judge Tracy Christopher, sitting in her capacity as a regional administrative judge, sustained defense pleas to the jurisdiction in all of the coordinated South Texas cases, which include lawsuits originally filed in Hidalgo, Zapata and Starr Counties among others. ChevronTexaco is represented by Jeff Ballew and Luke Ashley of Thompson & Knight LLP.

For more than 117 years, Thompson & Knight LLP has consistently made a positive impact on its clients’ successes. With its practice focused on the energy industry, the firm has extensive resources in litigation, tax, insolvency, and international energy matters. The Firm has more than 380 attorneys and offices and alliances in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. Thompson & Knight represents companies, government entities, and individuals in local, regional, and national markets around the world.

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