Arent Fox’s Federal Takings team filed two lawsuits on behalf of Michigan landowners seeking “just compensation” under the Fifth Amendment for the taking of their land for the creation of a recreational rail-trail. The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. As we recently noted, our lawsuits have attracted national support.
The government shamefully argues these landowners have no forum for relief in any court and has filed motions to dismiss both suits. Even more astonishingly, the government actually asked the CFC to dismiss the landowners’ claims by ruling contrary to binding Federal Circuit Court of Appeals precedent and, in effect, overruling the “order of filing” rule announced in Tecon Engineers v. United States, which has been upheld in several recent Federal Circuit decisions.
Judge Firestone rightly denied the government’s motion in the CFC in a decision available here. Judge Firestone correctly ruled that binding precedent supports the landowners’ claim, stating, “this court declines the government’s invitation to set aside the standard articulated by the circuit in Tecon and affirmed in several post-Tohono decisions.”
Although this is a victory for landowners, unfortunately, it is a battle that these landowners shouldn’t have been forced to fight.