Beeson v. City of Palmer

[PROPERTY LAW]

In Beeson v. City of Palmer,[1] the supreme court held that, in order for an inverse condemnation claim to be successful, governmental action must be a proximate cause of the alleged property damage.[2] Beeson lived on a plot of land in Palmer bounded by a road owned by the city.[3] Beeson’s property would frequently flood in the spring.[4] He alleged that the flooding was due to the road’s obstruction of the land’s natural drainage, prompting him to bring an inverse condemnation claim against the city for the damage caused by the road.[5] At trial, the superior court found that the road “was not a substantial cause” of the flooding, leading to a judgment in favor of the city.[6] The supreme court held that a public improvement must be found to be a proximate cause—that is, “more likely than not a substantial factor in bringing about the injury”—in order for a reverse condemnation action to be successful.[7] Because proximate cause is a finding of fact, and not law, the supreme court deferred to the superior court’s finding that the road was not a proximate cause of the damage to Beeson’s property,[8] and upheld the judgment in favor of the city.[9] Affirming the superior court, the supreme court held that governmental action must be a proximate cause of property damage in order for an inverse condemnation action to be successful.

[1] 370 P.3d 1084 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 1093.

[3] Id. at 1086.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 1086-87.

[6] Id. at 1087.

[7] Id. at 1090.

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 1092.

Beeson v. City of Palmer

[PROPERTY LAW]

In Beeson v. City of Palmer,[1] the supreme court held that, in order for an inverse condemnation claim to be successful, governmental action must be a proximate cause of the alleged property damage.[2] Beeson lived on a plot of land in Palmer bounded by a road owned by the city.[3] Beeson’s property would frequently flood in the spring.[4] He alleged that the flooding was due to the road’s obstruction of the land’s natural drainage, prompting him to bring an inverse condemnation claim against the city for the damage caused by the road.[5] At trial, the superior court found that the road “was not a substantial cause” of the flooding, leading to a judgment in favor of the city.[6] The supreme court held that a public improvement must be found to be a proximate cause—that is, “more likely than not a substantial factor in bringing about the injury”—in order for a reverse condemnation action to be successful.[7] Because proximate cause is a finding of fact, and not law, the supreme court deferred to the superior court’s finding that the road was not a proximate cause of the damage to Beeson’s property,[8] and upheld the judgment in favor of the city.[9] Affirming the superior court, the supreme court held that governmental action must be a proximate cause of property damage in order for an inverse condemnation action to be successful.

[1] 370 P.3d 1084 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 1093.

[3] Id. at 1086.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 1086-87.

[6] Id. at 1087.

[7] Id. at 1090.

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 1092.