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Rockstead v. Crystal Lake, City of

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20080
Nos. No. 06-1286, (7th Cir., 04/10/2007)

The Seventh Circuit upheld the dismissal of landowners' takings claim against a city for allowing their land to become flooded due to city-owned stormwater detention ponds and a wastewater treatment facility. The flooding transformed their land from farmland to wetlands. The landowners filed an inverse condemnation suit in state court, but before completing their state-court proceeding they filed the present suit in federal court seeking just compensation under federal constitutional law. They justify this short-circuiting of the state courts on the ground that state law is so clearly against them that it would be futile to proceed to final judgment in those courts. Despite the antiquity of state-law precedent, their action in state court is not futile given the intervening changes in the legal status of wetlands. Hence, the landowners failed to exhaust their state judicial remedies and their case was properly dismissed.