Dallas Developer Tries to Ban Book on Eminent Domain Case, Appeals Hearing Today

H. Walker Royall, a Humble Oil heir and Highland Park resident, may or may not be the world’s greatest real estate developer (I’ve never heard of him), but he is one hell of a litigator.  He made a failed effort to use eminent domain with the town of Freeport, Texas to build a marina on the site of a long-established shrimp business. The owners fought back, and the deal collapsed. Attorney Carla Main wrote a book that examined the controversy, Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land. Royall promptly sued the author, the publisher, and even a professor who wrote a blurb praising the book. (He is also now in litigation with Freeport. The man likes to pay lawyers.) He wants the book quashed. Oddly, he has received more negative publicity from trying to ban the book than from the book itself.

A trial court in Dallas refused to dismiss the case on First Amendment grounds, although Royall has been unable to say how the book defamed him. Today the petition for dismissal goes before a three-judge panel of the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas at 11 a.m.  The Washington-based Institute for Justice is defending the author. You can read more about it from the Institute here or in William McGurn’s excellent take on the pernicious effects of the Kelso ruling in today’s Wall St. Journal here.

As usual, FOF was first on the case, when the suit was first filed. You can read Wilonsky’s first take from 2008 here.

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