Stueve Bros. Farms, LLC v. United States

In 1941, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the Prado Dam on the Santa Ana River near Corona, California. Plaintiffs’ predecessors purchased property in the flood control basin. The Corps anticipated inundation of property in that basin and paid for flowage easements to an elevation of 556 feet. In the 1970s, the Corps planned to modify the Dam, raising its height, increasing the size of the spillway, and enlarging the reservoir. The project was expected to raise the flood inundation line by 10 feet. Under a 1989 agreement, local agencies undertook to acquire or condemn needed property and easements. In 1999, the Orange County Flood Control District offered to purchase the plaintiffs’ property. No agreement was reached. In 2003 the Corps issued new flood-plain maps. Local governmental agencies recorded a survey showing the 566-foot flood inundation line and arranged for placement of small surveyor’s markers at the 566-foot line. Chino rezoned the plaintiffs’ property below the 566-foot line for “passive recreation and open space use.” There has not been any flooding above the 556-foot line before or after the dam level was raised. In 2011, the plaintiffs sued, claiming a taking of a flowage easement over their property between the 556-foot and 566-foot lines. The Claim Court Claims dismissed, holding that absent actual flooding, the plaintiffs could not sustain their claim. The governmental actions, at most, support apprehension of future flooding. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Stueve Bros. Farms, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law