The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) departure from longstanding flood control policies destroyed farmland and property in Missouri, according to an amended complaint filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims on October 15, 2014. The litigation filed on behalf of farmers and landowners in the Missouri River Basin alleges the Plaintiffs’ land was subjected to severe flooding which devastated property over the past 7 years, and is likely to continue in future years.
According to the complaint, the Defendants fundamentally changed Missouri River management policies in 2006, in order to implement a preservation plan for protection of wetlands and at-risk or endangered fish and wildlife. These policies were a departure from the longstanding status quo, and the Corps allegedly made public statements acknowledging that the new design would result in frequent overflow of the River and devaluation of the Plaintiffs’ private property. The Corps explained to farmers living along the River that, in order to restore fish and wildlife, “everyone would have to do their part,” and that “[y]our part is to move out of the floodplain and don’t live there.” The lawsuit claims the Corps took the Plaintiffs’ property for a public purpose without any just compensation, violating their Fifth Amendment rights.
The class members in this litigation are farmers, individuals and subsidiaries who own, operate farms or reside in the Basin. The plaintiffs are represented by Benjamin D. Brown and Laura Alexander of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Polsinelli PC.