J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · August 30, 2019

Hinga Mbogo’s long road to justice came to an abrupt and frustrating end today when the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear his challenge against Dallas’ efforts to force out his beloved auto mechanic shop so that the city can make way for the city’s preferred businesses, such as chain restaurants or coffee shops.

“Although this may be the end of the road for Hinga’s lawsuit against Dallas, we’ll never stop in our fight to stand up for property rights in Texas,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Senior Attorney William Maurer. “What Dallas has done to Hinga is an affront to anyone who believes in private property. If Hinga’s property isn’t safe, then no one’s property is safe. If the courts are unwilling to protect Texans’ property rights, then we will turn our efforts to the state legislature to end this abuse once and for all.”

The lawsuit challenged a practice known as “amortization”—which is a type of retroactive zoning—whereby the city unilaterally changed the zoning for Mr. Mbogo’s property, forcing him to shut down and move his mechanic shop from where it stood for more than 30 years. The practice has been compared to eminent domain abuse, which is illegal in Texas, except unlike eminent domain, in this case Dallas hasn’t compensated Mr. Mbogo a single cent for the harm it has caused him and his business.

Tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Hinga. An online petition on Change.org was signed by more than 92,000 people. The petition states that using “zoning laws to destroy small businesses is wrong.”

Hinga said, “I’m disappointed that the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear my case. I will keep fighting at the Texas Legislature to stop this abuse and make sure no one else in Texas goes through what I have gone through.”

“Hinga is an American hero,” said IJ Attorney Ari Bargil. “He immigrated here more than 30 years ago, started a successful business, and when he faced adversity, he stood up for his rights and sued the city. We need more people like Hinga who, when they see an injustice, stand up for what is right.”

IJ has a successful history of fixing abuses through the legislative process after the courts have refused to protect property rights. After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to protect IJ client Suzette Kelo’s home from eminent domain abuse in the infamous Kelo v. New London case, IJ spearheaded an effort to change eminent domain laws in statehouses across the country, resulting in legal reform in 44 states.