On June 21st, 2019, the Supreme Court decided Knick v. Township of Scott by a 5-4 vote. This decision made substantial changes to takings procedures under the Fifth Amendment. The Supreme Court held that a government entity violates the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution as soon as the entity takes property without compensation. A property owner may bring a takings claim in federal court under the Fifth Amendment at the time of the taking, without first bringing a state takings claim. The Knick case explicitly overrules the state-litigation requirement of Williamson County Regional Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City.
The precedent from Williamson County required property owners to bring their takings claims in state court before pursuing a Fifth Amendment takings claim in federal court. The unexpected consequence of this requirement was that property owners who lost their claims in state court were then prohibited from pursuing related claims in federal court. The Knick case now definitively allows property owners to bring Fifth Amendment takings claims in federal court without first bringing any sort of state takings claim, even when such state takings claims are available.
Property owners must still abide by the finality requirement of Williamson County, which requires that property owners obtain a final decision from the government entity regarding the regulation of the property that is being taken. In short, Knick enables property owners to bring Fifth Amendment takings claims directly to federal court as soon as the government entity has made a final decision regarding the regulation of the property.*
*Fifth Amendment takings claims can be brought directly to federal court under 42 U. S. C. §1983.
If you have any questions regarding the implications of Knick for Fifth Amendment takings claims or if you need legal assistance with any type of takings claim, please contact: