Palazzolo v. Rhode Island

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Palazzolo v. Rhode Island
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 26, 2001
Decided June 28, 2001
Full case name Anthony Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, et al.
Citations 533 U.S. 606 (more)
121 S. Ct. 2448; 150 L. Ed. 2d 592; 2001 U.S. LEXIS 4910; 69 U.S.L.W. 4605; 52 ERC (BNA) 1609; 2001 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5439; 2001 Daily Journal DAR 6685; 32 ELR 20516; 2001 Colo. J. C.A.R. 3358; 14 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 458
Prior history On certiorari to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Subsequent history Remanded to Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Holding
A claimant does not waive his right to challenge a regulation as an uncompensated taking by purchasing property after the enactment of the regulation challenged.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas; Stevens (part II-A)
Concurrence O'Connor
Concurrence Scalia
Concur/dissent Stevens
Dissent Ginsburg, joined by Souter, Breyer
Dissent Breyer
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV

Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606 (2001), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a claimant does not waive his right to challenge a regulation as an uncompensated regulatory taking by purchasing property after the enactment of the regulation challenged.

Background[edit]

Parties[edit]

Plaintiff/Petitioner 
Anthony Palazzolo, owner of a waterfront parcel of land in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, almost all of which is designated coastal wetlands under Rhode Island law.
Defendant/Respondent 
Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

State of law[edit]

Prior to 1971, owners of coastal land required a permit from the Rhode Island Division of Harbors and Rivers (DHR) in order to erect structures on coastal lands. In 1971, Rhode Island enacted legislation creating the Coastal Resources Management Council, charged with protecting the state's coastal properties. Regulations promulgated by the council protected coastal salt marshes as "coastal wetlands,'" on which construction was severely limited.

Facts of case[edit]

In 1959, Petitioner Palazzolo and business associates, operating under the name Shore Gardens, Inc. (SGI) purchased three undeveloped parcels on the Rhode Island coast. Petitioner Palazzolo eventually became sole shareholder of SGI, and began efforts to develop the land by submitting parcelling plans to the town. As the land required significant filling, Petitioner Palazzolo submitted applications for permits from the Division of Harbors and Rivers, which were denied. In 1978, Palazzolo acquired all of SGI's properties. In 1983, Petitioner Palazzolo again attempted to develop the land, submitting several permits, all of which were rejected. He also challenged the Council's determinations as contrary to the principles of state administrative law, but the courts affirmed the Council's actions.

Prior history[edit]

Petitioner Palazzolo sued in Rhode Island courts for inverse condemnation. Eventually, the Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected his claims.

Procedural posture[edit]

Petitioner Palazzolo sought reversal of Rhode Island courts' judgments, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Legal analysis[edit]

Issue[edit]

The Court addressed whether the Rhode Island Supreme Court erred in holding that Petitioner did not have standing to claim a regulatory taking because he acquired the property after the enactment of regulations, and that Petitioner did not endure a total taking because some of the parcel remains economically usable.

Arguments/theories[edit]

Petitioner 
Petitioner Palazzolo argued that the denial of a permit for filling by the Respondent Council effects a taking without compensation under the total takings analysis of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council because the denial deprives him of "all economically beneficial use" of the land.
Rhode Island Supreme court 
The Rhode Island Supreme Court held that (1) Petitioner Palazzolo had no right to challenge the permit denial as a total taking because he acquired the property after the enactment of the regulation under which the permit was denied, and therefore had sufficient notice of such regulation; (2) the upland portions of the land were available for development, and therefore Palazzolo was not deprived of all economically beneficial use; and (3) Palazzolo cannot claim a taking under the more general balancing test of Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City.

Rule of law[edit]

The Court ruled that a claimant does not waive his right to challenge a regulation as an uncompensated taking by purchasing property after the enactment of the regulation challenged.

Holding[edit]

The Court held that the Rhode Island Supreme Court erred in holding that Petitioner did not have standing to sue because he acquired the property after the enactment of regulations. The Court did not fully address the issue of whether Rhode Island Supreme Court correctly held that Petitioner did not endure a total taking because some of the parcel remains economically usable.

Reasoning[edit]

The majority argued as follows: The argument that a claimant who acquires property after the enactment of a regulation waives the right to challenge such regulation as an unconstitutional regulatory taking fails because (1) such a principle would make the constitutionality of a regulation a matter of the passage of time, thereby creating a "[statute of limitations]" on a constitutional right; (2) such a principle also prejudices owners at the time of regulation, whose ability to transfer the land has become seriously impaired; and (3) such a principle would create different and unequal rights between different classes of owners (old owners and new owners).

Result[edit]

Judgment/disposition[edit]

Rhode Island Supreme Court judgment reversed in part and remanded.

Subsequent history[edit]

Case thrown out at a lower court.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • 533 U.S. 606 Full text of the opinion courtesy of Findlaw.com