December 4, 2012 United States Supreme Court opinion

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v United States

The Commission managed forest lands which were downstream from a dam. The Army Corps of engineers changed its water release patterns in ways that created extended, but, temporary flooding of the forest land. After a significant loss of trees which the Commission claimed was caused by the repeated flooding, the Commission brought suit for compensation under the Takings Clause. The trial court ruled in its favor and awarded $5.7 million in damages. The appeals court reversed ruling that temporary flooding is categorically excluded from takings claims. The Court unanimously reversed holding that temporary flooding can support a takings claim. It noted that precedent had approved claims for temporary occupation and that there was no temporary flooding exception to the rule. It remanded the case for further proceedings and identified several factors to consider in analyzing the claim including the amount of time the property was flooded, the foreseeablity of flooding, the nature of land, the Commission’s investment backed expectations and the severity of the interference. Justice Kagan did not participate in this case.

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