Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Illinois Supreme Court Addresses Takings Clause in Temporary Flooding Case

In Hampton v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, property owners sued the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), alleging that the MWRD had caused flooding on their properties and in their homes during a storm by diverting stormwater to nearby creeks. The owners claimed that the flooding constituted an unconstitutional "taking" for which they are owed just compensation under the Illinois takings clause.  In defending against the takings claim, the MWRD cited the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in People ex rel. Pratt v. Rosenfield, 399 Ill. 247 (1948). That case had held that a temporary flooding is never a taking under the Illinois Constitution. The owners, on the other hand, argued that the case was controlled by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Arkansas Game & Fish Comm’n v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 511 (2012), which held that temporary flooding can constitute a taking under the federal constitution. 

The circuit court denied the MWRD's motion to dismiss and certified the following question: 
Does Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. U.S., 133 S. Ct. 511 (2012), overrule the Illinois Supreme Court’s holding in People ex rel. Pratt v. Rosenfield, 399 Ill. 247 (1948), that temporary flooding is not a taking?
The Illinois Appellate Court held that the Illinois takings clause is broader than the federal takings clause, and that Arkansas Game and Fish Commission overruled Pratt

On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the U.S. Supreme Court has no authority to overrule a state court's interpretation of state law, in this case the Illinois constitution.  
Hampton v.Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, 2016 IL 119861(July 8, 2016). However, since the takings clauses are synonymous in the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions, the Court determined that U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding takings are relevant even in cases alleging a taking under the Illinois constitution. However, the Court determined that neither Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nor Pratt imposes a bright line rule regarding whether temporary flooding constitutes a taking.  Instead, both cases direct courts to analyze the facts on a case by case basis to determine whether the owner’s use and enjoyment of the property was diminished or destroyed. 

Applying that analysis to the case against the MWRD, the Court evaluated whether the owners had sufficiently alleged a violation of the Illinois takings clause. The Court noted that the owners only alleged one instance of flooding, and that the flooding was not recurrent or prolonged.  Further, the complaint failed to address whether the MWRD knew that the diversion would cause the flooding. Finally, the Court noted that there was no evidence that the owners were deprived of the use of their property to support a takings' claim. As  a result, the Court determined that the complaint failed to sufficiently allege that the flooding constituted a taking under the Illinois constitution.  

However, the Court did remand the case for the lower court to review and determine whether the owners have a sufficient claim under the Illinois constitution for compensation for damages to their properties. The Court noted that the Illinois constitution provides broader rights to property owners than the U.S. constitution because an owner may be entitled to payment of just compensation for "damages" - the Illinois constitution provides that "Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation as provided by law..."  (emphasis added).

Post Authored by Erin Baker, Ancel Glink


Post a Comment