Over 40 residents filed suit in Chambers County against the State of Texas alleging that the repeated flooding of thousands of acres of property along Interstate-10 was due to the design, construction, and operation of barriers installed by the State. These concrete barriers were installed to act as a safety median. But during large rain events the median traps the water and floods private property along the north side of Interstate-10, rather than allowing the water to flow downstream as it had for years.
“The State knowingly and intentionally put a dam in the middle of a highway that runs across natural water flow,” says lead plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Charest. “By design, the properties on the north side of Interstate-10 are sacrificed, so a portion of highway on the south side could remain open. While the structure serves public purposes, like maintaining access and enhancing public safety, both the state and federal constitutions preclude the State from forcing a few individuals to bear the burden of providing those public benefits without just compensation. This issue affects many, many more people along the north side of I-10.”
Texas courts have previously ruled that the government must provide compensation to private property owners for losses suffered when the State choses to provide a public benefit that leads to the damages of others without any sort of compensation. This case will also serve as one of the first tests to the State’s liability to property owners under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amended to the U.S. Constitution.
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