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Missouri River Flood Case

On March 13, 2018, the United States Federal Court of Claims Found in Plaintiffs Favor

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Massive, atypical flooding along the Missouri River since 2006, including the catastrophic flood of 2011, threatened the livelihoods of landowners, farm communities and agri-businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.  On March 5, 2014, the national law firm Polsinelli PC, based in Kansas City, Missouri, serving as lead counsel, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, based in Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC, challenging the U.S. Army corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River.  On October 15, 2014, the suit was amended adding new claimants. 

Ideker Farms, Inc., et al. v. United States of America, Case No. 14-183L, is brought by farmers, landowners and business owners from six states who sustained losses from one or more floods occurring in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.  Flooding continued in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  Plaintiffs are asserting that the Corps’ priority for flood control and the policies and procedures, which endeavored to protect landowners near the river from flooding, changed by 2004 to conform to environmental laws and regulations.  Charging that the Corps’ actions have violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment that bars the Government from taking private property without just compensation, Plaintiffs are seeking reasonable and just compensation for losses caused by the flooding.  The suit is not a class action, nor is it a suit predicated on the Corps’ mismanagement of the river. 

The Honorable Nancy B. Firestone was assigned by the Federal Claims Court to try the action.  Forty-four “bellwether” Plaintiffs deemed “representative” of all of the Plaintiffs were selected for the purpose of trial.  The bellwether locations extend from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Leavenworth, Kansas.  The case was bifurcated into two phases:  Phase 1 addresses liability as to the causation of the flooding, and Phase 2, if necessary, would address losses incurred.  Extensive discovery proceedings on Phase 1 ensued through late 2016, with over 100 depositions being taken and in excess of 20 million documents being produced. 

Trial on Phase 1 began in the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri on March 6, 2017, moved to the Federal Claims Court in Washington, DC on April 24, 2017, and recessed on June 23, 2017 for post-trial briefing and closing argument. Over 90 witnesses testified during 55 days of trial for the presentation of the evidence.  Following the completion of post-trial briefing, closing arguments in the trial resumed in Kansas City the week of November 13, 2017 and concluded December 1, 2017. Trial lasted a total of 63 days.

On March 13, 2018, Judge Firestone issued her Trial Opinion on Phase 1 addressing causation of the flooding and found in favor of Plaintiffs in major respects.  The Court found that changes made to river management and operations deprioritizing flood control in conjunction with the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP) beginning in 2004 changed the river and caused flooding in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2014. This constituted a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment.  Citing testimony of Plaintiffs' experts, the Court acknowledged that "recurrent and increased levels of flooding will continue into the future".  The case now proceeds to Phase 2 where damages/losses from the flooding will be addressed.   The Court's 258 page Trial Opinion is provided below, attached to this website.  The Plaintiffs' Press Release and accompanying Fact Sheet, as well as the Court's Trial Opinion may be accessed via the links below:

Press Release

Fact Sheet

Trial Opinion

This website is for informational purposes only, and intended for citizens and property owners who are interested in this pending action and/or concerned about the recurrent flooding in the Missouri River Basin since 2006.


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