Weekly litigation report – October 1

October 01, 2016 | By LARRY SALZMAN

Landowners must be made whole when their property is taken

We filed this amicus brief in South Lafourche Levy District v. Jarreau in the Louisiana Supreme Court. There are many valid reasons why government may take private property. That could include anything from a new public highway to levees to protect a city from flooding. But when government takes someone’s property, the owner should be fully compensated — and left no worse off and no better off than before the taking. But a number of jurisdictions refuse to pay for business losses caused by the taking. In this case, a landowner’s land with its ongoing soil excavation business was taken by the levee district so it could use the soil for a levee. So far so good. But the District is paying only for the land, and not its value as a soil excavation and hauling business. In fact, the District has even gone so far to demand that the owner pay the district for soil that the owner had excavated before the taking. As our blog explains, we are urging that the court adopt a rule that when the Constitution says “just compensation” be paid, that should include business losses in a case like this one.

PLF opposes illegal fracking regulations

Opposing the Bureau of Land Management’s illegal fracking rules, we filed this amicus brief in the Tenth Circuit in Wyoming v. Jewell. The BLM has no statutory authority to regulate fracking or groundwater. To the extent that EPA once did, Congress expressly took that authority away. But the BLM appears to be operating under the theory that if Congress doesn’t expressly forbid a particular agency from regulating something, it can go ahead and do what it pleases. We disagree. Regulatory agencies do not have license to regulate without statutory authority, and agencies cannot interpret silence in statutes to grant authority. For more, see our blog post here. 

PLF files appeal to stop discrimination

PLF filed this opening brief in E.L., a minor, by La ‘Shieka White v. Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is our challenge to an archaic discriminatory policy that prevents a child from transferring to a public school that specializes in STEM courses, solely because he is African-American. For more on the developments in this case, see our blog post here.

Freedom of contract defended at the U.S. Supreme Court

The Federal Arbitration Act protects the right of employees and employers to agree to resolve individual workplace disputes by arbitration, rather than litigation (including class action lawsuits). The National Labor Relations Board says that those arbitration agreements are unlawful. Different appellate courts have reached opposite answers on the question and several companies involved in those cases have petitioned the Supreme Court to resolve the matter. PLF has weighed in with an amicus brief defending the right of employer and employees’ freedom to make arbitration agreements.

Alabama rule requiring craft breweries to spy on you, rejected

This week the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Commission rejected a creepy rule that would have required craft breweries to record the names, phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays or anyone who purchased a craft beer (but not other beers) for carryout. PLF had filed formal comments to the Commission illustrating its anticompetitive effects, along with an article in Forbes opposing the the rule.