Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

Petitioners Devillier and others own property in Texas along Interstate Highway 10 (IH-10). The State of Texas, through the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), elevated IH-10 and installed a solid concrete median barrier, which acted as a “weir” to obstruct natural water flow and led to the flooding of the petitioners’ properties. Despite being aware of the potential for flooding, the State proceeded with the construction and even extended the barrier, causing extensive damage to the petitioners’ properties.

The petitioners sued the state, directly invoking the Taking Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which they argued applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court denied Texas’s motion to dismiss, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated, finding the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide a right of action for takings claims against the state.



  1. May a party sue a state directly under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment?


  1. The Court did not resolve the question presented because the case’s underlying premise was incorrect; the property owners adversely affected by the flood evacuation barrier constructed by Texas should be permitted on remand to pursue their Takings Clause claims through the cause of action available under Texas law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the unanimous opinion of the Court.

    The Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause guarantees the right to just compensation when the government takes private property for public use, but the Supreme Court has never clearly held that the Takings Clause itself creates a private cause of action for damages.

    However, the Court did not need to resolve this question because the case’s underlying premise—that the property owner had no cause of action to seek just compensation—was incorrect. Texas state law provides an inverse-condemnation cause of action that property owners can use to bring takings claims under both the Texas Constitution and the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause. The state assured the Court that it would not oppose any attempt by the property owners to amend their complaint to pursue this state-law cause of action. Therefore, since the property owners have an available avenue to seek just compensation, the Court remanded the case to allow them to pursue their Takings Clause claims through the Texas inverse-condemnation cause of action.