Private Property

DeVillier v. Texas Supreme Court Hearing

Richie DeVillier’s family has lived on their cattle ranch outside Winnie, Texas since the 1920s. Historically, rainwater on their land flowed naturally to the Gulf of Mexico. However, after the Texas Department of Transportation renovated a highway bordering their land, installing a three-foot-high concrete barrier along the highway, the dynamics changed. When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, the barrier acted as a dam, causing severe flooding on Richie’s land, killing animals and trees. The same issue recurred with Tropical Storm Imelda.

Richie and his neighbors sued Texas, arguing that the state’s actions constituted a taking of their property, requiring compensation under the Takings Clause of the Constitution. Texas argued that without a specific statute from Congress mandating compensation, they were not obliged to pay. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shockingly agreed.

With help from the Institute for Justice, Richie took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor. IJ Deputy Litigation Director Robert McNamara argued the case.

Listen to the Argument

Attorney Who Argued The Hearing

about the case

Private Property

DeVillier v. Texas

Supreme Court Argument Victory! On April 16th, the Supreme Court vacated the Fifth Circuit decision and ruled the Devillier family can sue Texas for flooding caused by the state. Resources Brief for Petitioners…