In his December 17, 2019 opinion, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Senior Judge Charles F. Lettow writes, “the evidence demonstrates the Corps was aware or should have been aware since the initial construction of the dams and at every point onward, that the flood pools in the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs would at some point (and thereafter) exceed the government-owned land, inundating private properties.” Dkt. 260, Pg 36.
Judge Lettow goes on to say, “the taking at issue here does not begin and end with the construction of Addicks andBarker. The Corps’ modification, operation, and maintenance of the dams was and is ongoing, continuing well into the years following the 1940s, and at each successive instance, the likelihood of occurrence of flood pools exceeding government-owned land grew. By the 1960s and 1970s, the Corps had a definite understanding that larger pool sizes were highly probable.” Id. He adds, “[l]ater events only magnified the risk of flooding beyond government-owned land, rendering it virtually inevitable.” Id.
The opinion holds that the government’s actions at the Addicks and Barker Dams and the subsequent flooding of Plaintiffs’ properties constituted a “taking” under the Fifth Amendment, and the Federal government is liable. Id. at 46.
What does that mean to Houstonians affected by the upstream flooding at Addicks and Barker Dams? The Court instructed Plaintiffs and Defendants to each propose three properties of the original 13 Bellwether test cases, from which the Court will select five test cases to decide damages. The Court instructed both sides to file their test cases by January 21, 2020.
Statistically, it appears that up to 75 percent of the people affected by this flooding have not yet acted. If your home or business flooded upstream from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, we would be happy to discuss your options with you.
Read the entire opinion from the Court below: