December 18th, 2023 — By — In OCA Blog
OCA Member Randy Smith Obtains Important Court Ruling to Enforce Payment of Inverse Condemnation Damage Award
Can a governmental body avoid paying an inverse condemnation damage judgment by simply refusing to do so on the basis of a state constitutional provision prohibiting seizure of state assets to satisfy money judgments? That is what the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans attempted to do when faced with having to pay property owners over $10 million on various judgments, but specifically in one test case over $1.5 million in damages and associated attorney fees and costs, all stemming from the adverse impacts of an urban drainage project on private homes and church property. Fortunately, OCA Member Randy Smith was able to convince the Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit to overturn this travesty of justice. Issuing a comprehensive opinion in Watson Memorial Spiritual Temple of Christ v. Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, the court ruled on December 13th that the payment of an inverse condemnation judgment is a ministerial duty and not a discretionary one. Although not yet final due to the possibility of the State Supreme Court hearing the case, for now this is a great result for property owners in Louisiana.