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Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:23 AM

Supreme Court Rules Government May Be Liable for Flooding.

Source: reuters/nyt

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the federal government may be required to pay damages when it releases water from a dam that causes temporary flooding for a property owner downstream.

The case addressed the politically charged issue of when government activity that affects private property constitutes a "taking" that requires payment to a landowner. Under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government must pay owners of private property that it takes for public purposes.

Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said temporary flooding of private land by the government is "not categorically exempt" from liability under the 5th Amendment's Takings Clause.

There is "no solid grounding in precedent for setting flooding apart from all other government intrusions on property," Ginsburg wrote. . .

The Supreme Court cautioned that its ruling was not meant to "credit all, or even many, such claims." Rather, lower courts would have to weigh numerous factors in deciding whether to award landowners compensation for temporary flooding, including the degree to which the damage was intended or foreseeable, recurring or severe.





Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/12/04/us/04reuters-usa-court-flooding.html?hp

11 replies, 1910 views

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Reply Supreme Court Rules Government May Be Liable for Flooding. (Original post)
elleng Dec 2012 OP
dbackjon Dec 2012 #1
elleng Dec 2012 #3
dbackjon Dec 2012 #4
elleng Dec 2012 #6
GeorgeGist Dec 2012 #2
underpants Dec 2012 #10
BumRushDaShow Dec 2012 #5
DallasNE Dec 2012 #7
davidn3600 Dec 2012 #8
elleng Dec 2012 #9
DallasNE Dec 2012 #11

Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:41 AM

1. And if there wasn't a dam?

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Response to dbackjon (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:10 PM

3. No government action.

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Response to elleng (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:20 PM

4. They would likely have had flooding.

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Response to dbackjon (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:48 PM

6. Yes but

The case addressed the politically charged issue of when government activity that affects private property constitutes a "taking" that requires payment to a landowner. Under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government must pay owners of private property that it takes for public purposes.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:41 AM

2. Kinda gotcha headline there ...

because they don't give a dam.

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 08:41 PM

10. Ba dooom ching!

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:33 PM

5. Even if the government were liable

Congress would have to appropriate the funds to pay out and that can take forever if it happens at all... Reference - the insanity of actually getting the funds set aside by Congress to give to the eligible black farmers after Pigford II was upheld by the SC and approved by the administration, where obstructionist Coburn put a hold on it for ages.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 03:03 PM

7. We Had A Summer Long Flood In 2011 Along The Lower Missouri River

That caused considerable damage and even caused both Nebraska nuclear power plants to be shut down due to the flooding. Much of Interstate 29 was closed all summer.

Without the upstream damns the flooding would have been far, far worse but the water level behind the upstream damns were at dangerous levels making the controlled flooding necessary. One of the nuclear plants is still not back up (it was already down for routine maintence/repairs).

This ruling opens up the federal government to billions of dollars for damages in just this one climate change flood. Oh, and there was a more minor summer long flood in 2010 in the identical area and it took a lot of farm land out of production in 2010 (though it caused little other damage) and that is a few hundred million more. Do you also pay the barge companies because the river was closed for months to barge traffic?

This ruling will be expensive. Very expensive and a boon to lawyers jumping on the gravy train.

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 06:59 PM

8. Decision was unanimous, 8-0 with Kagan recused herself

Not much to debate about that. Ginsberg wrote the decision.

Supreme Court's job is to rule on the Constitution and the law. It's not their role to rule in what's in the best favor of the government or the people. The government is responsible for their own laws.

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 07:33 PM

9. The Court said:

'(L)ower courts would have to weigh numerous factors in deciding whether to award landowners compensation for temporary flooding, including the degree to which the damage was intended or foreseeable, recurring or severe.'

Right of eminent domain is in the Constitution, and it comes with requirement for 'just compensation.'

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Response to elleng (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 09:39 PM

11. The Damage Was Both Intended And Foreseeable

Heavy snow in the mountains plus a wet spring resulted in the upstream dams filling well over capacity and that required a really large, constant release from the dams.

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