Weekly litigation report – September 24
Property rights case petitioned to Washington Supreme Court
This week PLF filed a petition for review to Washington state’s Supreme Court in Kinderace v. City of Sammamish. In that case, the commercially-zoned property of our client was rendered useless because the city made its land-use regulations increasingly restrictive over time. In an adverse decision, the Washington Court of Appeals held that because he was able to still develop neighboring parcels, the regulations did not really “take” his property. Interestingly, another PLF case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murr v. Wisconsin, addresses a similar question. We hope the Washington Supreme Court will grant review of the adverse Kinderace decision, either to right the appellate court’s wrong now or to hold the case to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the similar issue in Murr. For more information about the case, see PLF Principal Attorney Brian Hodges’ blog post.
Setback for right to criticize the government
PLF represents Duarte Nursery in a case alleging that the Army Corps of Engineers violated due process when it issued a cease and desist order to stop the farm from plowing its fields. When company president John Duarte spoke to the press about the government’s bad behavior, the government retaliated by suing the company for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act. In response, PLF brought a First Amendment retaliation claim against the government, which the trial court dismissed. This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected PLF’s appeal of the dismissal. However, the fight for Duarte’s other constitutional rights continues.
What to read next
One of the most fundamental rights of American citizens is the right to seek redress from illegal government action in a court of law. But the federal government has an arsenal of weapons it wields to deny or curtail this right. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the government’s attempts to stifle landowner suits challenging federal agency action under the Clean Water Act.