Rockstead v. City of Crystal Lake (Takings Jurisdiction)


U.S. Supreme Court

NAHB Involvement


The City of Crystal Lake operated stormwater detention ponds in a manner which caused plaintiffs' property to flood. The property owners initially brought an inverse condemnation case in state court, which ruled that Illinois state law did not allow a claim for intermittent flooding. Because further appeals in state court were futile, the property owners then brought a federal takings claim. The Seventh Circuit, however, dismissed the claim as unripe under Williamson County because the property owners had not exhausted their state law claims at the appellate level. The court explained that because “[t]he Supreme Court of Illinois has not weighed in on the issue since … 1948, it would be 'premature' for the federal court to conclude that resort by the plaintiffs to state court to collect just compensation would be futile."

This ruling effectively means that property owners can never bring Fifth Amendment takings claims in federal court, and the appeal provides an opportunity to ask the Supreme Court to address Williamson County’s unfairness and to reconsider the requirement that all takings claims be first brought in state court.

The Rocksteads filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 25, 2007, and NAHB filed an amicus brief in support of cert on Aug. 24, 2007. The Court denied cert on Oct. 9, 2007, and therefore NAHB's participation is complete.