Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: June 21, 2019
  • Case #: 17-647
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, ALITO, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined
  • Full Text Opinion

Property owners with an actionable takings claim are no longer required to litigate state action for just compensation before pursuing a federal claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983, overruling Williamson County Regional Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U. S. 172 (1985).

Petitioner owns property containing a small ancestral cemetery and was notified that she violated an ordinance that required “all” cemeteries be open to the public during the day. Petitioner sought declaratory relief in state court alleging the ordinance “effected a taking” of the property, but did not seek compensation through “inverse condemnation.” The court found that Petitioner did not show irreparable harm for which relief could be granted. Petitioner filed a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging a violation of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause.  The district court dismissed, finding that under Williamson County Regional Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U. S. 172 (1985), Petitioner had not pursued the required action for just compensation in state court and the Third Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court overruled Williamson County, reasoning in favor of its holding in San Remo Hotel, L. P. v. City and County of San Francisco, 545 U. S. 323 (2005), concluding the just compensation state-litigation requirement placed an “unjustifiable burden” and Catch-22 upon any property owner with an actionable takings claim because when a claim is filed first in state court, the owner runs the risk of the preclusive effect of barring the federal court action if the state action is unsuccessful. VACATED and REMANDED.

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