No regulatory taking despite temporary flooding since the government’s action avoided more harm than it caused

In Alford v. United States, 961 F.3d 1380 (Fed. Cir. 2020), owners complained that the Army Corps of Engineers took their properties by temporarily flooding a nearby lake, knowing it would damage the plaintiffs’ property but doing so to avoid even greater damage to their property from a breach of the levee that was almost certain to occur if the Corps had not acted and which would have resulted in the complete destruction of plaintiffs’ properties. The Federal Circuit applied the “relative benefits” doctrine and reversed the Claims Court’s finding of a regulatory taking. It found that the plaintiffs’ properties “would have been far worse off and suffered more serious damage if the government had not acted” and, for that reason, the government’s action protected, rather than took, property.
See also: Takings