Mandy Mercier is a long-time Austinite and an award-winning musician who has worked with the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Ms. Mercier’s life was turned upside-down when a group of aggressive real estate Developers purchased an old house in Travis Heights next to her home and promptly had the original building demolished. At some point in the process, the Developers realized that the only water line to their property needed to be improved and that it ran directly under Ms. Mercier’s home.
When Ms. Mercier declined the Developers’ request to turn her house into a construction site, the Developers filed a lawsuit against Ms. Mercier in which they tried to claim an easement by prescription on the water line. However the true intent of the lawsuit appeared to be to harass and bully Ms. Mercier into submission.
It was at this point that Pete Reid Law was asked to take up the case in defense of Ms. Mercier. Mr. Reid first spoke with the Developers’ attorney to explore alternative methods to get water to their property, but was told that the only option was to use the existing water line under Ms. Mercier’s home.
However, independent of the Developers’ assurances, Pete Reid uncovered evidence that the Developers had in fact already sought and received permission from the City of Austin to extend a separate water line from a nearby street to their property. However the Developers had apparently decided that the street option was prohibitively expensive.
Pete Reid drafted and filed a motion for summary judgment and for sanctions against the Developers on the basis that there could be no easement by prescription where the prior use of an easement was permissive, as it was here, and that a prescriptive easement requires a specific intention to permanently appropriate the right in a property. An intention that was absent from the Developers’ predecessors*. The motion was set for a hearing in the District Court of Travis County.
On behalf of Ms. Mercier, Pete Reid argued that as the Developers’ lawsuit was brought for an improper purpose, namely to harass and needlessly burden Ms. Mercier with the cost of litigation, that the case should be dismissed and that the Developers should be sanctioned.
The Developers denied these claims but shortly after the motion was filed, and Mr. Reid’s arguments were made, the Developers agreed to drop the case and to pay all of Ms. Mercier’s costs and attorney’s fees in full.
Thanks to the experience and diligent work of Pete Reid Law, Ms. Mercier was able to free herself and her property from the advances of the aggressive Developers.
*Pete Reid became somewhat of an expert in easements by prescription after successfully working on a case decided by the New York Court of Appeals that pertained to a 30-foot-wide strip of land between two $12 million properties on Gin Lane in the Hamptons.
Photo credit: www.mandymercier.com