Today, in a stunning victory for thousands of homeowners who suffered flood damage during Hurricane Harvey, the United States Court of Federal Claims found the U.S. government liable for damages caused to properties that were upstream of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. The case result was handed down to 13 property owners west of Houston. Still, the resulting decision applies to approximately 10,000 homes and businesses in the region. This decision could finally result in compensation for homes and businesses that suffered serious damage more than two years ago.
If your home or business was flooded during Hurricane Harvey and your property is upstream (west) of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, then you may be eligible for compensation. Call (888) 493-1629 as soon as possible to discuss your legal options in a free consultation. For more context, keep reading.
Fighting the Uncompensated Taking of Private Property
During Hurricane Harvey's historic downpour, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs nearly filled to capacity. The earthen embankments were already known to be in serious need of repair, and public records show that the Army Corps of Engineers recognized the serious risk that a major hurricane posed to homes and businesses in the reservoir. Regardless, to prevent downtown Houston from flooding, the reservoirs held water for an extended period and flooded about 10,000 homes and businesses as a result.
The plaintiffs made the case that the Corps’ deliberate flooding of thousands of private properties constituted a "taking" or the seizing of private property by the government for public use. Takings are governed by the Fifth Amendment, which says that private property shall not be taken without just compensation to the owner. In other words, the government owes thousands of people compensation for flooding their land, homes, shops, and offices. The federal government then filed a motion to have the cases dismissed.
The trial regarding whether the government could be held liable for damage done to property owners upstream of the Addicks / Barker reservoirs occurred from May 6 to May 16, 2019. It was presided over by the Honorable Judge Charles F. Lettow. Closing arguments were heard on September 13. In today's court decision, the government's motion to dismiss was officially denied, and the government was found liable for the damages caused to more than 10,000 properties in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.
How Much Compensation Could a Homeowner or Business Owner Get?
That remains to be seen. Judge Lettow separated the liability question and the damages question into two separate trials. Another trial has been scheduled for January to see how much in damages the government is liable to pay. While damages will differ on a case-by-case basis, the 13 test properties will provide a clearer look at how much the average case will provide homeowners or business owners.
What this means for property owners upstream of the Addicks/Barker reservoirs is that they may be eligible to get relief for the massive damage they suffered. Lost business, remodeling or repair costs, and other losses incurred by Hurricane Harvey may be recoverable. After two years, there's finally hope on the horizon for thousands of families.
When you're facing the U.S. government, you'll need a powerhouse law firm in your corner. The next step is hiring an attorney with a proven track record of maximizing verdicts and settlements. Arnold & Itkin has won billions for our clients—helping them rebuild their lives, even when facing the world's largest companies. If you want an attorney who has the resources and experience to help you get what you need, call us.
We offer free consultations so that you can answer your questions and learn your options, risk-free. Call (888) 493-1629 or contact us online today.