Tuesday, April 16, 2024

SCOTUS Says Takings Plaintiff Must Proceed Under State Law

The Supreme Court ruled today that property owners should pursue their claims under the Takings Clause through a cause of action available under state law. The Court declined to say whether the Takings Clause contains its own cause of action (whether it's "self-executing") in the absence of any other cause of action that would vindicate the property owner's rights under the Takings Clause. But when a state-law cause of action exists to protect Takings Clause rights, a plaintiff must use the state law, not the Takings Clause.

The case, DeVillier v. Texas, arose out the state's efforts to use part of U.S. Interstate I-10 as a flood evacuation route. The state erected a 3-foot barrier on the highway that kept the south side open during heavy rains, but flooding the north side, including plaintiffs' lands. Plaintiffs sued in state court, arguing that Texas effected a taking and seeking just compensation under the Texas Constitution and the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. Texas removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss the Fifth Amendment claim, arguing that the plaintiffs had no cause of action under the Takings Clause.

A unanimous Supreme Court declined to answer that question. Instead, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs had to proceed under Texas state law to enforce their Takings Clause claim for just compensation. In other words, the Court said that when an alternative cause of action can protect the plaintiffs' Takings Clause rights, plaintiffs must use the alternative cause of action.

The Court said that because Texas provided a cause of action, "[i]t would be imprudent to decide" whether the Takings Clause contains its own cause of action.

The ruling means that the plaintiffs can go back to state court and seek just compensation under state law.


Cases and Case Materials, News, Opinion Analysis, Takings Clause | Permalink


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