Landowners may pursue a "taking" claim where City dramatically lowers groundwater without evaluating expected impact on surrounding property owners
Doris Gaskin and Coretta Sisson sued the City of Jackson for damage to their homes caused by the City's dramatic lowering of the groundwater through the installation of municipal wells. The City sought summary disposition, arguing that the plaintiffs were attempting to pursue a "tort" or negligence claim, and that the City should be granted governmental immunity from their claims.
After a thorough review of existing law, the Court of Appeals panel held that the plaintiffs could not seek damages from the City under a common law theory applicable to adjacent private landowners, but they could seek an equitable injunction to control the water draw. The Court also concluded that the plaintiffs might be able to establish a "taking" under the law, given the City's knowledge that its new wells would drop surrounding groundwater significantly, coupled with its failure to evaluate this adverse impact.