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Leeco Gas & Oil Company v. County of Nueces

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Citation. 22 Ill.736 S.W.2d 629 (Tex. 1987)

Brief Fact Summary. Nueces County received a gift of land from Leeco Gas with the possibility of reversion in Leeco should the land ever be used for any purpose other than a public park. Nueces County sought to condemn the reversion interest of Leeco.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a governmental entity seeks to condemn a reversionary interest held by the grantor of land under a gift deed, the proper amount of damages is determined by compensating the grantor in an amount which represents the difference between the unrestricted fee and the restricted fee.

Facts. In 1960 Leeco Gas gift deeded fifty acres to Nueces County for the purpose of “constructing and actively maintaining a public park,” and that if the county should fail to do so, the Leeco, as grantor, would have a reversionary interest in the property. The county did in fact construct and maintain a park on the property which was on Padre Island. In 1983, however, the county began proceedings to condemn Leeco’s reversionary interest. The county commissioners awarded Leeco $10,000 for the reversionary interest. Leeco appealed to the county court at law and the trial court granted summary judgment against Leeco resolving all issues but the amount of damages. Experts testified that the land was worth between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000, but the trial court awarded Leeco nominal damages of $10. Leeco appealed to the intermediate appellate court which affirmed the trial court. Leeco appealed from the intermediate appellate court’s decision.

Issue. The issues are stated in two parts.
Was the county estopped from seeking to condemn Leeco’s reversionary interest by its acceptance of the deed containing the reversionary interest?
What is the proper measure of damages?
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