Dan King
Dan King · February 15, 2024

NEW ORLEANS—On Wednesday, the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case of an innocent woman who is seeking compensation after a SWAT team destroyed her McKinney, Texas home while pursuing a fugitive in 2020. Vicki Baker, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), will now file a petition with the United States Supreme Court, asking the justices to hear her case. 

“The decision not to rehear Vicki’s case is certainly disappointing, but the fact that some judges dissented provides a platform to continue fighting for her constitutional rights,” said IJ Attorney Jeff Redfern. “The Fifth Amendment requires the government to provide just compensation when it destroys private property for a public purpose, as the SWAT team did when it destroyed Vicki’s home to get a fugitive off the streets.” 

In Wednesday’s decision, 11 judges denied Vicki’s attempt to have her case reheard, while 6 judges voted in favor of rehearing her case. 

“There is no doubt the McKinney community was better off because its officers ravaged Baker’s home. But it is at least peculiar to say that because the officers’ conduct benefited the community, the community can avoid compensating Baker for the inconveniences she incurred on its behalf,” wrote the dissenting judges. “Thus, it should have been the City’s burden to establish its conduct was excepted from the strictures of the just compensation requirement.” 

Vicki’s case began in July 2020, after a fugitive with a hostage broke into her home and barricaded himself inside, while she was not home. When police arrived, a standoff ensued, and her home suffered $60,000 worth of damage. Vicki’s insurance company and the city declined to cover the damage, so in March 2021, she sued. In April 2022 she won a partial summary judgment at the district court level and, in June 2022, a federal jury ruled she was entitled to nearly $60,000 in damages. But, after the city appealed that decision, in October 2023 a panel of the 5th Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision.  

“I’m prepared to fight as long as it takes,” said Vicki. “This case is bigger than me. It’s about ensuring all innocent people who have their property destroyed by the government have a way to be compensated.”