Steve Thompson, attorney for a group of rural Taylor County landowners who on Tuesday lost their lawsuit against the Horse Hollow wind farm, said Wednesday that he’s uncertain what avenue to take on appealing the case.
His clients have 30 days from when the verdict was reached to file an appeal, unless they file a motion for a new trial, a move that would extend the deadline to 90 days. The appeal would be heard by the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.
A 42nd District Court jury on Tuesday declined to find FPL Energy, owner of the Horse Hollow project, liable for creating a nuisance for 11 neighboring properties.
Motions for new trials are usually denied, Thompson said.
The Houston attorney said that it was too soon after the trial ended to decide which route to take.
Thompson said he did not expect his plaintiffs to win the jury verdict, partly because Taylor County has a reputation for not awarding damages to in civil trials. The county’s residents are also pleased to be part of the wind energy capital of the world, he said.
The Horse Hollow wind farm is the world’s largest at 735 megawatts. Taylor and Nolancounties are at the heart of the wind energy industry in Texas, which boasts more wind energy capacity than any other state.
Thompson said the experience in the trial here will be valuable in lawsuits he recently filed against proposed wind farms in Jack and Cooke counties. Class action litigation is an option under consideration in those counties, he said. The plaintiffs in the case decided Tuesday are bound by that verdict, pending appeal, he said.
Class action lawsuits are filed by individuals or groups on behalf of themselves and others ”similarly situated.” Judges often refuse to certify class action when the harm claimed by different litigants varies too much, Thompson said.
The plaintiffs in the suit against FPL Energy, an affiliate of Florida Power & Light, are mostly individuals and families who live on the land they claim has been marred by the installation of wind turbines nearby. Noise created by the wind turbines was the crucial issue in the lawsuit, after 42nd District Judge John Weeks ruled that Texas law did not provide grounds for a claim based on visual aesthetics.
Plaintiff John Connolly, a Baton Rouge, La., resident, built a hunting lodge on the Taylor County property owned in the name of his company, Convest Corporation. Family, friends and business associates hunt on the land, Thompson said.
The jury also denied relief to 10 other plaintiffs and sets of plaintiffs:
Dale and Stephanie Rankin of Tuscola; Walter and Debra McGee of Ovalo; Jim and Luann Blay of Buffalo Gap; Steve and Linda Brasher of Ovalo; Professional Health Services, Inc., also known as Ken and Sherri Lain of Tuscola, and Sherri Lain; Greg McEachern of Abilene; Patricia LaPoint of Tuscola; and Stephanye Sayles Taylor of Tuscola.
By Jerry Daniel Reed / firstname.lastname@example.org
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