STEC v Frio CAD
Updated: Feb 23, 2022
On November 1-5, 2021, LSEJ lawyers Kirk Swinney, Ryan James, Odalis Suarez and Marjorie Backman, on behalf of the Frio County Appraisal District, litigated the value of the Pearsall Power Plant, a peaking plant belonging to the South Texas Electric Coop (STEC). STEC was represented by Norton Rose Fulbright, USLLP, by attorneys from its San Antonio and Houston offices. The tax years in issue were 2018-2020. The case had been set for trial twice earlier but had been continued due COVID-19 state of emergency.
Frio CAD’s values were approximately $68mm in 2018, $73mm in 2019, and $157mm in 2020. Frio CAD’s fee appraiser expert, however, testified to values of approximately $144mm in 2018, $150mm in 2019, and $175mm in 2020. STEC’s expert testified to values of approximately $32mm. STEC had paid all the taxes in 2018, and only the undisputed amount for 2019 and 2020. STEC called and seated the P&A appraiser retained by FCAD and who derived the values on the appraisal roll, over Frio CAD’s objection. At trial, STEC withdrew any claim for attorney fees.
The jury returned a verdict of approximately $71mm for 2018, $73mm for 2019, and about $81.4mm for 2020. STEC did not appeal. Under the verdict, STEC will owe the taxing units combined just over $2mm in additional taxes.