San Antonio lawyer sues H-E-B for creating ‘nuisance,’ seeks as much as $1M in damages

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio attorney Rene D. Ruiz is fed up with his corporate neighbor — HEB.

Ruiz lives across the street from the grocery chain’s headquarters, where he says delivery trucks regularly block the sidewalk, bike lane and roadway in front of his home on the south side of East Arsenal Street in the King William District.

Deliveries to the headquarters’ River South Gate begin at 7 a.m. and count between 15 and 20 per day and generate a “significant amount of noise, including engine noise, compressor noise, horn noise … and reverse beeping noise.”

Ruiz set out his grievances in a lawsuit filed Monday, alleging that HEB Grocery Company LP created both a “public nuisance” and a “private nuisance.” Not only does he want it to stop, he wants HEB to pay him anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million in damages.

From a legal standpoint, a nuisance is “when a neighbor does something that prevents you from enjoying your home in peace,” according to the Texas Legal Services Center, an Austin-based nonprofit that provides legal services to underserved Texans.

Ruiz claims HEB has created both a public and private nuisance because the issues cause problems for both the general public and him personally. The market value of his listed building was damaged, he says in the lawsuit.


HEB loses appeal for defamation

In a statement, the grocer says it worked with its neighbors.

“HEB has proudly invested in the restoration of the historic Arsenal property as our corporate headquarters, which we have called home since the mid-1980s,” spokeswoman Dya Campos said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “We value all of our neighbors and have always worked closely with them to understand and engage with the diverse needs of our neighboring communities.”

Ruiz had no immediate comment.

His home is on a section of East Arsenal where three “No Thru Trucks” signs are posted, he says. But commercial truck drivers who supply HEB ignore them.

Numerous photos of trucks allegedly blocking the sidewalk, bike lane or roadway are evidence in Ruiz’s lawsuit. He filed the complaint in the state district court in San Antonio.

He also included photos of HEB employees driving golf carts/utility vehicles up and down East Arsenal Street. The vehicles are not “road legal” and “make a loud, piercing noise when reversing,” he says.

Ruiz says he has filed complaints with HEB employees, the truck drivers and their employers, the San Antonio Police Department, the City Department of Public Works and Transportation, and representatives from his city council district.

“All for nothing,” he says in a suit.

Ruiz appeared in an Express News article in 2020 when he told the Historic and Design Review Commission he was concerned about large rigs improperly using a bike lane and dumpsters standing in the way.

Todd Piland, an executive vice president of HEB, told the commission he thinks the company has addressed the issues. If not, he said it would.

Ruiz has worked in government, public utilities, real estate and the environment, according to a brief description on the State Bar of Texas’ website.

HEB established its headquarters in 1985 on 10 acres of the US Arsenal campus. The lot on the north side of East Arsenal Street is designated as a commercial area, while Ruiz’s house – purchased in 2003 – is in a residential area.

He doesn’t mention in his lawsuit how much damage was done to his home’s “historical character and value,” but he is seeking damages for the “depreciation.”

His ownership of the property and its estimated value are not disclosed on the Bexar Appraisal District website. Zillow estimates the property’s value at nearly $513,000.

SA Inc.:

Get the best business news straight to your inbox

The ordinance banning trucks on its section of Arsenal Street is based on “public safety,” Ruiz’s suit says.

Deliveries can be made to other Dwyer Avenue and Whiteley Street entrances to HE-B properties in areas designated for commercial use, he says.

HE-B’s actions “create a condition that amounts to an unreasonable interference with a general right that public sidewalks, bike lanes and lanes are not regularly blocked by a private company,” Ruiz adds in the lawsuit.

Ruiz wants a court to issue an injunction to stop East Arsenal commercial trucks from driving past the “No Thru Truck” signs.

[email protected]