Property Owners Say Federal Power Act Doesn’t Preempt Toledo Bend Dam Flood Damage Claims

Property Owners Say Federal Power Act Doesn’t Preempt Toledo Bend Dam Flood Damage Claims

Petitioners, property owners and lessees in the State of Louisiana, filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7, 2014. Petitioners’ properties were flooded due to an operational release of water by the Toledo Bend Dam. They initially filed a case in state court in Louisiana for the damage to their real and personal properties. The case was removed to the District Court and the District Court, in Simmons v. Sabine River Auth. of La., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58583 (W.D. La. Apr. 25, 2012), dismissed the action after determining that the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 USCS § 803, preempted all claims.

The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the dismissal of the action. Simmons v. Sabine River Auth. La., 732 F.3d 469 (5th Cir. La. 2013)

Petitioners argued that the matter was one of first impression in the Fifth Circuit and that the conclusion that court came to caused a division with other Courts of Appeal regarding whether the FPA preempts state law property damage and takings claims. They noted that four other Circuit Courts, along with state courts, had previously ruled that the FPA preserved the claims. Petitioners also asserted that the Fifth Circuit’s conclusions were incorrect. They asserted that 10(c) of the FPA was a “savings clause” that preserved all their claims for property damages.

The response is due Feb. 10, 2014.

The case is No. 13-815, Jeff Simmons, et al. v. Sabine River Authority of Louisiana, et al.

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