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Fed. Circ. Finds US Owes Farmers Flooding Loss Damages


June 16, 2023

The Federal Circuit on Friday rejected the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ appeal of a 2020 decision awarding farmers along the Missouri River more than $7 million for serial flooding of their land, and vacated the trial court’s decision that the farmers were not eligible for damages for their crop loss.

In a unanimous decision, a panel for the Federal Circuit rejected the government’s arguments that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims lacked jurisdiction, and that the plaintiffs misapplied causation and relative benefits to their Fifth Amendment claim. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by over 400 farmers, landowners and business owners from North Dakota to Kansas, who alleged that flooding over the last decade constituted a “taking without just compensation” in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

“It is undisputed that the [U.S. Corps of Engineers] has permanently burdened plaintiffs’ land with a right to access their land with flood waters,” the panel said in an opinion.

The judges also concluded that the trial court erred when it ruled that the bellwether plaintiffs weren’t eligible for damages for their crop losses and property damages over the years, and when it ruled that the government was not responsible for flood damages caused in 2011. The issues were remanded back to the trial court for further consideration. The bellwether plaintiffs include Robert Adkins & Sons Partnership in Iowa, Ideker Farms Inc. in northwest Missouri and Buffalo Hollow Farms Inc. in Kansas.

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The plaintiffs are represented by R. Dan Boulware and Edwin H. Smith of Polsinelli PC and Benjamin D. Brown of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

Read Fed. Circ. Finds US Owes Farmers Flooding Loss Damages.