The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by homeowners who claimed their Village was liable for damages they incurred when their basements flooded. Billie v. Village of Channahon.
The residents (current owners of homes in a subdivision) contended that the Village violated the Constitution when it approved their subdivision and issued building permits for their homes in the early 1990s. The district court dismissed their case, finding the residents did not state a valid cause of action.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit upheld the dismissal, holding that the Constitution does not “compel governmental intervention to assist persons in distress” nor does it “entitle private parties to accurate enforcement of local, state, or federal laws.” The Court acknowledged that while there may be a private claim against the builders if they or the original owners concealed the flood risks, the Constitution does not require governments to prevent private citizens from making decisions. Finally, the Court rejected the residents’ takings claims, finding that the Village did not take anyone’s property, whether by physical invasion or by regulation. Instead, the Court noted that it was the DuPage River that invaded the residents’ properties, and that “the Village did not create the rain, the river, or the floodplain.” In sum, the Court held that the lawsuit was properly dismissed because it was not a proper cause of action against the Village.