Palazzolo v. Rhode Island Case Brief

Summary of Palazzolo v. Rhode Island
S. Ct. 2001

Restrictions on Property Use- Just Compensation Clause of 5th Amendment.

Relevant Facts: petitioner filed an inverse condemnation action in Rhode Island Superior Court, asserting that the State’s wetlands regulations, as applied by the Council to his parcel, had taken the property without compensation in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The suit alleged the Council’s action deprived him of “all economically beneficial use” of his property, resulting in a total taking requiring compensation

Legal Issue(s): Whether the Act effectively deprived owner of all economic use and therefore a taking under the 5th ?

Court’s Holding: Not all economic use, partial, and therefor falls under taking clause in part.

Procedure: The d court ruled against petitioner, and the State Supreme Court affirmed. Reversed in part [unripe=ripe; and ~barred by taking claims], affirmed [~deprivation of all economic use]; remanded.

Law or Rule(s): Even a minimal permanent physical occupation of real property by government requires compensation under the Takings Clause. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 5.

Court Rationale: Where a regulation places limitations on land that fall short of eliminating all economically beneficial use, a taking nonetheless may have occurred, depending on a complex of factors including the regulation’s economic effect on the landowner, the extent to which the regulation interferes with reasonable investment-backed expectations, and the character of the government action. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 5. Takings claim was ripe for judicial determination once state coastal agency interpreted its regulations as precluding any filling or development of marshlands and determined that proposed use did not qualify for special exception. This Court rejects the State Supreme Court’s sweeping rule that a purchaser or a successive title holder like petitioner is deemed to have notice of an earlier-enacted restriction and is barred from claiming that it effects a taking. Were the Court to accept that rule, the post-enactment transfer of title would absolve the State of its obligation to defend any action restricting land use, no matter how extreme or unreasonable. A State would be allowed, in effect, to put an expiration date on the Takings Clause.

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