Publications

Supreme Court Overturns Williamson County: Allows a Property Owner Challenging a Local Government Regulation to Bring a Fifth Amendment Taking Case in Federal Court without Having to First Litigate in State Court

July 2019

June 21, 2019 saw a significant win for property owners. The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in Knick v. Township of Scott (“Knick”), overturned its finding in the 1985 case Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (“Williamson County”).

In Williamson County, the Supreme Court held that a property owner who was claiming an unlawful taking by a local government under the Fifth Amendment must first pursue an inverse-condemnation action for “just compensation” in state court before bringing a claim in federal court. The Supreme Court reasoned that no constitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment occurs until the property owner is denied “just compensation” at the end of the state court proceeding. In practice, this meant that property owners had to litigate their takings claims to finality before the state court and lose before they could access the federal courts. Further, property owners who lost at the state court level could be denied access to the federal courts on the grounds that the state court had already decided the constitutional issue.

In Knick, the Supreme Court held that Williamson County was wrongly decided and that an inverse-condemnation action can be brought in federal court at any time, without the need for a property owner to first bring a state court action. The basis for overturning Williamson County was the Supreme Court’s reading of the Fifth Amendment – that a constitutional violation occurs as of the effective date of the “taking” (when the local regulation takes effect), not later when “just compensation” is denied.

While the Supreme Court’s decision in Knick leaves certain questions unanswered, it marks a victory for property owners pursuing unlawful local government takings claims insofar as it clears the way for them to file suit directly in federal court. Case in point – property owners in New York City have recently sued the State of New York in federal court to challenge updated state rent control laws, with one of the claims being a Fifth Amendment “taking” without “just compensation.”

Firm Highlights
Client Alert

City of St. Louis 2021 Primary Municipal Election: Meet the Candidates

More
Client Alert

Employee Benefit Provisions in the Recent COVID-19 Relief Bill

More
News

Lindsay S. C. Brinton and Meghan S. Largent Negotiate $1.4 Million Settlement for Landowners along Legacy Trail

More
News

Brian P. Pezza Discusses Vaccination Considerations for Employees in Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Article

More
Client Alert

PPP Round 2: Newly-Authorized Initial and Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program Loans and Other Changes Benefit Borrowers

More
News

Paul R. Himmelstein Joins Lewis Rice Kansas City Office

More
Client Alert

COVID-19 Vaccinations: Considerations for Employers

More
Client Alert

Have You Done Your Annual CCPA Housekeeping?

More
Client Alert

Employers, Start Planning Now – Get Ahead with the Upcoming H-1B Cap Season

More
News

David W. Sweeney Interviewed in Realtime REALTOR® Podcast on Changes to Elections in the City of St. Louis

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Apollo Carey Selected for Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD’s) 2021 Fellows Program

More
Client Alert

Key Tax Benefits in the New $900 Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill

More
News

Jeremy P. Brummond’s Article on Waivers of Consequential Damages is Published in Construction Executive

More
News

David W. Sweeney Named to Missouri’s POWER List for Lawyer-Lobbyists by Missouri Lawyers Media

More
Client Alert

New York State Regulator Discourages Ransomware Payments and Publishes New Cyber Insurance Risk Framework

More
News

Winthrop B. Reed, III and the Saint Louis Zoo Unveil Name of Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park

More
Client Alert

Supreme Court Decision Provides Good News for Creditors

More
News

Lewis Rice Names Brian J. Figueroa Member of the Firm

More
News

Lewis Rice Wins Significant Victory for Atlanta Landowners Impacted by the Belt Line Rail-Trail

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Fatima G. Khan Elected President of South Asian Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

More
News

Jerina D. Phillips Offers COVID-19 Vaccination Advice for Employers in St. Louis Magazine Article

More