CorridorWatch.org ALERT – 09-14-06
PROMISING TO PROTECT PROPERTIES FROM CONDEMNATION
‘You Can’t Take It’ and promoters sued for misleading property owners about land seizures linked to Trans-Texas Corridor project.
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a lawsuit to stop three individuals and their organization from falsely claiming they can protect property owners from potential eminent domain proceedings possibly linked to the Trans-Texas Corridor project.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that promoters of “You Can’t Take It” with its associated Web site attempt to scare property owners into believing their properties may be affected by the future highway projects. The scare tactics then lead to offers to rescue them from speculative eminent domain proceedings for a fee of $600, which will increase to $1,000 by November. The organization also would assess homeowners a $100 yearly “maintenance fee.”
The defendants assure homeowners that their organization is capable of halting eminent domain proceedings, which may, speculatively, affect them. They claim to accomplish this by filing commercial lease agreements or otherwise encumbering the property using the organization’s so-called “Property Protection Scheme.”
The promoters claim this conversion is an ironclad safeguard that will bar further legal proceedings involving these properties. The defendants go even further by fraudulently claiming that only by availing themselves of this organizations expertise can consumers gain full protection from “thirsty developers.”
To the contrary, the organizations attempts to encumber these properties with commercial lease agreements for the purpose of “economic development” to block state condemnation could place homeowners in jeopardy of losing these properties. You Cant Take It promoters also deceive homeowners by telling them that such a conversion will increase their property values by seven times the actual market value.
The defendants also fail to inform homeowners how this scheme could affect pre-existing contractual agreements they have with mortgage companies, home equity loan programs or banks. In addition, consumers are not told how entering into such agreements may run afoul of local residential zoning ordinances.
The defendants recently have conducted door-to-door solicitations with sales teams, pressuring potentially affected homeowners into doling out money to become enrolled in their “Property Protection Scheme.”
The Attorney General seeks both temporary and permanent injunctions halting any deceptive claims or advertising, requiring the defendants to fully disclose all the facts associated with eminent domain proceedings.
The suit also requests penalties of $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a penalty of $250,000 if a harmed consumer is 65 years of age or older, and reasonable attorneys fees.
Property owners, who believe they may have been misled by this organization or others like it, may file complaints with the Attorney General by calling toll-free (800) 252-8011, or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us
Additional information can also be found on www.CorridorWatch.org.