Palazzolo v. Rhode Island

533 U.S. 606, 121 S. Ct. 2448 (2001)



To be eligible for review, a takings claim must be ripe. A takings claim challenging the application of land-use regulations is not ripe unless the government entity charged with implementing the regulations has reached a final decision regarding the application of the regulations to the property at issue. A final decision by the responsible state agency informs the constitutional determination whether a regulation has deprived a landowner of all economically beneficial use of the property, or defeated the reasonable investment-backed expectations of the landowner to the extent that a taking has occurred. These matters cannot be resolved in definitive terms until a court knows the extent of permitted development on the land in question. 


The landowner was a shareholder in a corporation that invested in the subject property. The resource management council promulgated regulations designating salt marshes such as those on the property as protected coastal wetlands. The landowner subsequently became the corporation's sole owner. When the corporate charter was revoked, title passed to the landowner. The council denied the landowner's application to fill the property. The landowner filed a takings action, which was rejected in state court.The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part.


Did the state court err in finding that the claims were unripe?




The state court erred in finding that the claims were unripe, because the landowner obtained a final decision from the council determining the permitted use for the land. The state court also erred in ruling that acquisition of title after the effective date of the regulations barred the claims. However, the state court did not err in finding that the landowner failed to establish a deprivation of all economic value, because it was undisputed that the upland portion of the parcel retained significant worth for construction of a residence. The case was remanded so the claims could be examined under the Penn Central analysis.

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