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Kottschade v. Rochester, City of

ELR Citation: 33 ELR 20141
Nos. No. 02-1504MN, (8th Cir., 02/13/2003)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of a developer's taking claim against a city as unripe due to the developer's failure to exhaust his state court remedies. The developer received a permit to build a townhouse project, but the permit was subject to nine conditions. The developer claimed that the conditions, when taken together, were out of proportion to the impact of the development and, thus, rendered it an economic impossibility. After the developer unsuccessfully appealed to the city board and the city's common council, he filed suit in federal district court challenging the conditions and seeking compensation. The district court held that the developer's federal claim was not ripe because he had failed to obtain a final decision from the city and because state court procedures and remedies remained available. The developer appealed arguing that under Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), and City of Chicago v. International College of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 28 ELR 20612 (1997), a plaintiff can file a takings claim in federal court as a matter of course. However, under Williamson, a property owner has not suffered a violation of the Just Compensation Clause until the owner has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain just compensation through the procedures provided by the state for obtaining such compensation. Although the developer argues that City of Chicago overrules Williamson's holding requiring exhaustion of state remedies, City of Chicago's holding allowing plaintiffs in takings cases in federal courts as a matter of course only applies to the question of federal jurisdiction over a ripe takings claim. It does not explicitly answer the question of what is necessary to render a takings claim ripe. The U.S. Supreme Court has not overruled the ripeness requirements laid out in Williamson in the context of takings cases. Thus, Williamson requires the developer to pursue the post-deprivation remedy available to him in state court. Although the developer correctly points out that seeking a post deprivation remedy in a state court inverse condemnation action may result in res judicata denying his right to a federal forum guaranteed by 42 U.S.C. §1983, the result of the state court action is unknown. The developer may win in the state court or, alternatively, lose and receive Court review.

[Counsel not available at this printing.]