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DeVilliers Prevail in US Supreme Court

Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued its opinion in DeVillier et al. v. Texas, No. 22-913, allowing 120 landowners to proceed with their takings claims against the State.

I wrote about this case when the Court agreed to hear it.

The Summary of facts in the Court’s Syllabus describes the issue:

Richard DeVillier and more than 120 other petitioners own property north of U. S. Interstate Highway 10 between Houston and Beaumont,
Texas. The dispute here arose after the State of Texas took action to use portions of I–10 as a flood evacuation route, installing a roughly 3-
foot-tall barrier along the highway median to act as a dam. When subsequent hurricanes and storms brought heavy rainfall, the median
barrier performed as intended, keeping the south side of the highway open. But it also flooded petitioners’ land to the north, causing significant damage to their property. DeVillier filed suit in Texas state court. He alleged that by building the median barrier and using his
property to store stormwater, Texas had effected a taking of his property for which the State must pay just compensation. Other property
owners filed similar suits. Texas removed the cases to federal court, where they were consolidated into a single proceeding with one
operative complaint. The operative complaint includes inverse-condemnation claims under both the Texas Constitution and the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. As relevant, Texas moved to dismiss the federal inverse-condemnation claim, arguing that a plaintiff
has no cause of action arising directly under the Takings Clause. The District Court denied Texas’ motion, concluding that a property owner
may sue a State directly under the Takings Clause. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding “that the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide a right of action for takings claims against a state.” 53 F. 4th 904

Before the Supreme Court, the State conceded that plaintiffs could pursue their takings clause under the Texas Constitution (contrary to its position in the courts below). The Supreme Court declined to decide whether plaintiffs had the right to sue for damages under the takings clause in the US Constitution, since the State agreed they could pursue their takings claim under state law.

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