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The action for inverse condemnation provides a procedural remedy to a property owner seeking compensation for land already taken or damaged against a governmental or private entity having the powers of eminent domain where no expropriation has commenced. The action for inverse condemnation is available in all cases where there has been a taking or damaging of property where just compensation has not been paid, without regard to whether the property is corporeal or incorporeal.
Steve Crooks and Era Lea Crooks filed this class action lawsuit, seeking to be declared owners of certain immovable property and to fix the boundary between their properties and State-owned property. The Crookses further requested compensation for the inverse condemnation of the immovable property and repayment of royalties received by the State for oil, gas, and mineral activities that have taken place on the property. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the Crookses, awarding compensation and attorney's fees, and the State appealed.
Was the judgment for inverse condemnation proper?
The Court held that the judgment for inverse condemnation and royalties complied with La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. arts. 1918, 1919, 2089 because it listed the Crookses’ names, allocated the awards, and described the property. Acquisitive prescription by the state was implicitly prohibited under La. Const. art. I, § 4(B)(1) as a taking without just compensation. The Crookses were third party beneficiaries under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1978 of a state agreement with the federal government, which was a stipulation pour autrui. The action was timely under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3493 because interference with servitudes of drainage was a continuing tort; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:5111 did not apply to land flooded by federal agencies. Attorney's fees were not available under § 13:5111(A), but La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. arts. 595, 1920 authorized common fund fees and costs.