Matt Hurt joined Dawson & Sodd, LLP as a partner in April 2011. He focuses exclusively on eminent domain and condemnation litigation. Immediately prior to joining Dawson & Sodd, Matt practiced almost exclusively in the area of eminent domain, representing both landowners and condemning authorities while working for Locke Lord, LLP in Dallas. Before focusing so closely in this area, Matt represented clients in construction defect litigation, antitrust matters, personal injury and products liability cases, and numerous business litigation matters.
He graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering while also completing the Engineering Scholars Program in 1996. While studying there, he was nominated by the Department of Civil Engineering for Outstanding Student in the College of Engineering and he served in student government. Matt worked in the civil engineering field for nearly two years before attending law school. Some of his work involved research on the Texas A&M campus for the United States Navy. His engineering background and experience helps him to envision and critically analyze the impact that a government project will have on a landowner’s property. Due to his engineering experience, he has become invaluable to Dawson & Sodd’s clients and other partners, most notably in highway takings and other matters involving engineering analysis of damage to properties from partial takings.
In 2001, Matt graduated magna cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Law. During law school, he earned the highest grade in three classes: Torts, Products Liability, and Legal Writing. Matt was president of the law school’s Texas Aggie Bar Association, served on the Board of Barristers, and was Technology Editor of the Texas Tech Law Review. He and his mock trial partner won the Texas Tech School of Law mock trial competition during their third year of law school.
The Thomson Reuters service has recognized Matt as a Super Lawyer in Texas eminent domain law for 2014-2018. Before being named a Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters also recognized Matt as a Rising Star in construction litigation in 2005, and in the area of eminent domain in 2013 and 2015.
Matt is licensed to practice in Texas and Colorado, state and federal courts in Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
When not practicing law, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, especially if it involves anything outdoors. Matt and his family attend Northwest Bible Church in Dallas.
CASES AND RESULTS
- Settlement of six (6) different TxDOT highway takings cases for four landowner families in Ennis (Ellis County) involving the taking of land fronting along existing U.S. 287 for the widening and expansion of that highway in the southern portion of Ennis. The combined initial offers from TxDOT in the six cases of $942,991 was increased to a net recovery of just over $2,294,000 (after litigation expenses and legal fees), representing an average net increase of 2.43 times the initial offers in all six cases. The lowest net increase obtained was 1.71 times the initial offer, and the highest increase was 4.05 times the initial offer. (2017-2018)
- Settlement of a school site acquisition case brought in Collin County by Prosper Independent School District (“PISD”) which sought to condemn a very valuable 35 acre future commercial corner site in Frisco, Texas. The settlement resulting in the conveyance to PISD of approximately 33 acres at a much more favorable site for the landowner instead of the loss of much more valuable 35 acre corner site PISD sought to condemn in the condemnation case. PISD ultimately agreed to dismiss the condemnation case seeking the 35 acres and instead took the 33 acres that was much less valuable to the landowner. The settlement preserved the valuable corner tract worth between $11M and $16M (for which PISD initially offered only $3,062,500). In addition to preserving the valuable corner, our firm was able to obtain for the landowner the net amount of $4,063,000 (after legal fees and expenses) for the inferior 33 acres–$1,000,000 more than it was offered for the 35 acre valuable commercial corner site. (2017)
- Settlement of TxDOT highway takings case in Tarrant County involving the taking of all of the front two rows of parking spaces (and fire lane) from a former restaurant site leased by Twin Peaks. As a result of the taking, Twin Peaks terminated the lease on the site. The State’s valuations ignored negative impacts to on-site circulation, safety concerns, and the seemingly obvious fact that the parking spaces closest to the front door of the restaurant (all of which were taken by TxDOT) were the most valuable parking spots for the restaurant site. The initial offer of $522,400 was increased to a net recovery of $1,503,000 (after litigation expenses and fees). (2017)
- Settlement (confidential amount) in an environmental damage case against a pipeline company that allegedly released waste materials created during its construction and testing of a new pipeline in Erath County. Dawson & Sodd did not represent the landowner in the initial acquisition of the pipeline easement (the landowner’s local lawyer did), but after the acquisition was complete and construction began, Dawson & Sodd sought additional damages from the pipeline company for violations of the easement terms, including allegedly releasing arsenic contaminants onto the landowner’s property in and around the easement area. In addition to monetary compensation recovered, the pipeline company remediated the allegedly contaminated area. (2017)
- Settlement of a powerline condemnation case representing Texas Municipal Power Agency resulting in a net recovery of $1.066 million, a 35% increase over the condemnor’s initial offer. The settlement was obtained quickly, with minimal expenses and before the condemnation lawsuit was even filed. (2016) Matt settled another case for TMPA resulting in a net recovery of $992,000, which was approximately 5 times the initial offer. (2017)
- Settlement for a property owner in a TXDOT taking involving vacant commercial property in Ennis, Texas (Ellis County) resulting in a $776,000 net recovery to the client, which was approximately 15 times higher than the initial offer. (2015)
- Settlement for a property owner in a TXDOT taking on vacant commercial property in Ennis, Texas (Ellis County), resulting in a $1.16 million net recovery for the landowner, which was almost double the initial offer to the client. (2015)
- Co-counsel for a property owner in a jury trial concerning the taking of natural gas pipeline easement on a vacant commercial property in Tarrant County, resulting in a jury verdict for the landowner and a net recovery of $1 million on an offer of $154,700. (2015)
- Dismissal of TXDOT taking for a convenience store owner and operator in Dallas. In a deposition, Matt proved through the State’s engineer that TXDOT did not have the right to condemn the property for the project, resulting in a dismissal of the case where the owner was able to keep his property, be reimbursed for his expenses in the litigation and obtain other valuable concessions from TXDOT. (2013)
- Settlement involving TXDOT taking of a commercial/retail building in Tarrant County. The settlement amount was $1.394 million after legal fees and expenses, resulting in an increase to the landowner of approximately $548,000. (2013)
- Settlement of $1.6 million during the middle of trial on a TXDOT taking impacting a commercial office building site. (Settlement is gross settlement, not reduced by amount of client’s legal fees or litigation expenses.) The settlement amount was more than $700,000 over the State’s highest offer to settle the case, which was made the week before trial. (2011 trial) (Matt and Dawson & Sodd were co-counsel with Locke Lord)
- Jury verdict of $3,123,125 on SH 183 TXDOT road widening project impacting a four-story office building in Irving, Texas. The jury’s verdict was more than 40 times the initial offer to the client, not including client’s legal fees or litigation expenses. Matt successfully cross examined several of the State’s engineers and gave the closing argument at the trial of the case. The State appealed, but the judgment was affirmed, and the Texas Supreme Court denied the State’s request to consider further appeal of the result. See State v. Johnson, 444 S.W.3d 62, 79 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2014, pet. denied). (2011 trial) (Matt was co-counsel while he was still at Locke Lord)
- Verdict of $3,747,651 on a TXDOT taking involving the Brinker headquarters at Hillcrest & I-635 in North Dallas. Verdict was more than 10 times the initial offer, not considering the landowner’s legal fees or litigation expenses. The State of Texas appealed the judgment, but the judgment was affirmed. See State v. State Street B. & T. Co. and Brinker Int’l Payroll Co., L.P., 359 S.W.3d 375 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2012, no pet.) (2009 trial) (Matt was co-counsel while he was still at Locke Lord)
- Representing landowners affected by the controversial Trinity River Vision projects in Fort Worth.
- Represented national RV park owner whose Arlington, Texas location was partially condemned for the acquisition of a drainage easement.
- Represented Texas-based national restaurant chain whose restaurant was bisected by new right-of-way line for the widening of SH 183 in Bedford, Texas.
- Assisted in representation of successful rancher and deer breeder in condemnation case involving taking for the construction of a large diameter water transmission pipeline across the ranch and through deer pen areas. The water pipeline easement paralleled an existing overhead electric transmission line easement.
- Represented family owner of vacant development tract on Preston Road in Celina, Texas in condemnation case brought by State of Texas for widening of SH 289 (Preston Road). Case resolution involved both payment by State of additional compensation and construction of multiple commercial driveways to property at State’s expense.
- Represented landowner near Wills Point, Texas in federal case brought by Union Pacific Railroad seeking to enforce contract allegedly formed during UPRR’s efforts to acquire additional railroad right of way and to close existing at-grade railroad crossing. Case resulted in nearly fourfold increase in the previously negotiated contract amount.
- Assisted in representation of owner of industrial property fronting on navigable waterway in Brazoria County, Texas in case brought by county to acquire land and drainage rights for public highway.
- Represented Mansfield, Texas mixed-use / equestrian property developer whose development site was impacted by Texas Midstream gas pipeline.
- Represented rancher in southern Hardeman County, Texas impacted by Texas Express Pipeline.
- Represented recreational ranch owner in Grayson County, Texas against Seaway Pipeline in pipeline easement negotiations.
Matt has represented landowners against a variety of condemning authorities in a wide range of condemnation cases, including:
- The State of Texas and TxDOT
- Numerous pipeline cases
- Numerous powerline cases
- Union Pacific Railroad
- Cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Frisco
- Several counties
- Fort Worth Trinity River Vision Project
- Various water and utility districts
- Trinity River Authority
- Prosper ISD
Reported Condemnation Cases
Appellate successes include the following:
- State v. State Street Bank & Trust Co., 359 S.W.3d 375, 380 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2012, no pet.)
- State v. Johnson, 444 S.W.3d 62 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2014, pet. denied)
Presentations & Publications
- CLE Presentation: Attacking an Appraiser by Attacking the Other Experts, Attacking and Defending an Appraisal in Litigation CLE Conference in Austin, November 17-18, 2016
- Improving the Landowner’s Odds in Eminent Domain Cases, published in April 2015 issue of Headnotes for the Dallas Bar Association, co-authored with Tyler Milton and Jody McSpadden.
- CLE Presentation: Eminent Domain, Texas Aggie Bar Association Annual Meeting, March 2015, Texas A&M University
- CLE Presentation: Overview of Texas Condemnation and Eminent Domain Law, Collin County Bench/Bar Conference, March 2012
- CLE Presentation: Presenting Your Case with Demonstrative Evidence, Center for American and International Law; Planning, Zoning, and Eminent Domain Seminar 2010, SMU Plano Campus
- Texas Tech University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2001, magna cum laude
- Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, 1996, magna cum laude
Admitted to Practice
- Texas Courts statewide
- Colorado, 2002
- Federal Courts in Texas
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Professional & Community Involvement
- Colorado Bar Association
- Dallas Bar Association
- Texas Aggie Bar Association
- Member of Northwest Bible Church
- President of Ranch POA Board of Directors for 1300 acre residential ranch development in Colorado
Awards & Recognition
- Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list published annually by Thomson Reuters service for eminent domain for 2014 through 2018.
- Selected to the Rising Stars list published annually by Thomson Reuters service in construction litigation in 2005, and in the area of eminent domain in 2013 and 2014.