A Texas state judge has ruled that a case must go to trial where the issue is whether a high-speed rail project developer has the authority to survey private lands and pursue eminent domain in order to draw the best route for a train that would run from Dallas to Houston. In Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure Inc. v. Calvin V. House, Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure Inc. filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to deem the developer both a “railroad company” and an “interurban electric railway company” under Texas law which would enable it to survey private property for possible eminent domain. The suit seeks injunctive relief against Calvin House, a landowner who denied the company access to his 330-acre property.

In a one-page order filed Friday, Harris County District Judge Joseph J. Halbach Jr. denied the motion “in its entirety.”  The property owner argued that the fact that it would operate a railroad in the future wasn’t enough for it to claim it qualified as an “operating a railroad.”

The case will now proceed to trial.