WINNIE, Texas — A long-standing battle over property rights in Southeast Texas has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. On January 16, 2024, Richie Devillier and his legal team will make their way to Washington to present their case. Devillier, a resident of Winnie, asserts that the rebuilding of I-10 has caused significant issues on his family’s land, which has been in their possession for four generations.
According to Devillier, his family never had any problems with flooding until the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began the reconstruction of I-10. He claims that 900 acres of their farmland have been transformed into a lake, not once but twice. This extensive flooding, occurring six years after Hurricane Harvey and four years after Tropical Storm Imelda, has resulted in the loss of livestock and has had a detrimental impact on their property.
Seeking justice, Devillier and his attorneys from the Institute for Justice argue that the government should compensate him for the loss of his livestock and land. Attorney Robert McNamara points to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that if the government needs to flood land for construction purposes, it must provide just compensation. McNamara highlights that a TxDOT engineer even confirmed that the median dam was intended to keep the south side of the highway dry, implying that the flooding was intentional.
Devillier pleaded with TxDOT to remove the median, but his requests were unheeded. The agency insisted that they were responsible for highways, not drainage. Despite the pending decision of the Supreme Court, Devillier has no plans to move away from his property located north of I-10. This case extends beyond Devillier’s personal situation; a ruling in favor of the state could have far-reaching consequences across the country.
Both Devillier and McNamara recognize the broader implications of this legal battle. They believe that the outcome will determine whether the Constitution holds significance. Devillier asserts, “If this can happen to Richie, this can happen to anyone. This case isn’t just about a flood; it fundamentally questions the importance of our constitutional rights. We will find out if Texas values these rights or not.” They anticipate that the Supreme Court will make a final decision on this case, the second of the day, no later than June.
In conclusion, Richie Devillier’s fight against the Texas Department of Transportation’s actions has brought him to the highest court in the land. His claim of property rights infringement due to the flooding caused by the construction of I-10 will be heard in Washington. This case not only holds implications for Devillier and his family but also has the potential to set a precedent for property rights disputes nationwide. The Supreme Court’s ruling will determine whether constitutional rights are upheld or disregarded in cases similar to Devillier’s.