H. Walker Royall, a Humble Oil heir and Highland Park resident,Â may or may notÂ be the world’s greatest real estateÂ developerÂ (I’ve never heard of him),Â but he is one hell of a litigator.Â He made a failed effort to use eminent domainÂ with the town ofÂ Freeport, TexasÂ to build a marina on the site of a long-established shrimp business. The owners fought back, and the deal collapsed.Â Attorney Carla Main wrote a book that examined the controversy,Â Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land.Â Royall promptlyÂ 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 hasÂ received more negative publicity from trying toÂ ban the bookÂ 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.Â The Washington-based Institute for Justice is defending the author. You can read more about it from the InstituteÂ 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.