In both Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda, private property owners on the north side of Interstate 10 suffered never-before-seen flooding. In both occasions, the flooding appears to have been caused by the highway’s construction and operation such that I-10 acted as a dam by restricting the natural flow of runoff water. We are investigating whether these flooding events qualify as a taking under applicable law that would entitle flood victims to just compensation.
Local families contacted us to investigate their claims. We have researched the area, evaluated the hydrology, and researched the applicable law. Based on this work, we filed suit against the State of Texas over highway-induced flooding in Chambers County on May 26, 2020. But it is not too late to join.
We are researching this same set of facts in other areas. And we are open to talking with flood victims both inside and outside of Chambers County.
The legal theory is straightforward: Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government cannot take private property for a public use without providing “just compensation.” Typically, the government will ask the courts to authorize a condemnation proceeding and set the amount of compensation. This allows private property owners to challenge the taking and seek the maximum amount of compensation available under the law. Similar rights exist under the Texas Constitution.
When a government entity “takes” the property without consulting the courts or offering any compensation, this also violates the Fifth Amendment, and injured property owners can file what is called an “inverse condemnation” lawsuit. To assert an inverse condemnation claim based on flooding, a plaintiff must show: (1) a protectable property interest under state law (that you own or lease real or personal property); (2) the character of the property and the owners’ “reasonable-investment backed expectations”; (3) the degree to which the invasion was intended or the foreseeable result of the federal government’s decision; (4) the flooding was the “direct, natural, or probable result” of the federal government’s decision; and (5) that the federal government’s decision had a substantial or severe impact on the affected property.
Here these elements are met because the government foreseeably stored floodwaters on private property without obtaining the right or permission to do so. The lawsuit would seek “just compensation” for claimants. Other remedies may be available, depending on the circumstances.
“Just compensation” under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the value of the property of which you as the owner has been deprived. Not all losses will be compensable. The proper amount of damages depends on the particular circumstances in each case. We will assert that the federal government should pay just compensation for the “direct, natural, or probable results” of the Corps’ operation and management of the dams. This might include compensation for diminished property values, the “cost to cure” (or repair) damaged improvements, and damaged personal property.
You need to sign up with an attorney. We are here to investigate your claims and, if appropriate, file your claims in court. Please contact us to tell us that you want to participate, and we will discuss the case with you.
If you just wish to be added to our email list for updates, please submit your contact information here. Please understand that you only become one of our clients by signing an engagement letter with us. Without a signed engagement letter, we do not represent you.
Resolving these claims will take substantial time because it involves complex litigation against the government. Depending on the exact size of the case, the potential cost to the government may be substantial. All of those factors mean the case will take time. Please be wary of anyone promising quick results.
Nothing. The lawyers will cover all expenses and will recover a fee only if we obtain a successful result. There is no fee to the client unless we recover in this action.
Our team comprises attorneys with significant flooding cases from Burns Charest LLP, Irvine & Conner PLLC and, Dunbar & Harder, PLLC. The most recent work by these lawyers was winning a trial victory on liability for a federal takings case relating to flooding during Hurricane Harvey, In re Upstream Addicks and Barker Flood-Control Reservoirs, No. 1:17-cv-09001-CFL, in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Read more here.
Burns Charest LLP. Founded in 2015 by two former Susman Godfrey LLP partners in Dallas and an environmental and complex litigation lawyer in New Orleans, Burns Charest currently serves as lead or co-lead in complex cases throughout the country. Burns Charest has two offices, twenty-seven attorneys, and a large staff of paralegals and litigation support specialists. Daniel Charest served as a co-lead counsel in the federal takings case relating to flooding during Hurricane Harvey, In re Upstream Addicks and Barker Flood-Control Reservoirs, No. 1:17-cv-09001-CFL, in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Irvine & Conner PLLC and Dunbar & Harder, PLLC. Attorneys with Irvine & Conner and Dunbar & Harder, PLLC regularly handle technical flooding and drainage cases. Charles Irvine served as a co-lead counsel in the federal takings case relating to flooding during Hurricane Harvey, In re Upstream Addicks and Barker Flood-Control Reservoirs, No. 1:17-cv-09001-CFL, in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. And, in addition to being an attorney, Larry Dunbar has been a registered professional engineer in Texas since 1983, and has served as a flood expert witness in that capacity in numerous state and federal judicial and administrative proceedings.