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Armour v. Indianapolis

United States Supreme Court
132 S. Ct. 2073 (2012)


An Indiana statute known as the Barrett Law authorized cities in Indiana to charge owners of property benefited by sewer-improvement projects for those improvements. These charges could be fully paid or paid in installments over time. The City of Indianapolis (defendant) changed its assessment and payment method to the Septic Tank Elimination Program (STEP) plan in 2005. As part of this change, Indianapolis forgave any Barrett Law charges that had not been paid yet. Continuing to collect money due under the old Barrett Law system after switching to the STEP plan could have been complex and costly. However, Indianapolis did not issue any refunds to owners that had already fully paid for the improvements. Thirty-eight homeowners (plaintiffs) who had fully paid off the sewer improvements sought refunds equal to the smallest Barrett Law debt forgiven, which was $8,062. Indianapolis denied the request, and the homeowners sued, alleging a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld Indianapolis’s decision, and the plaintiffs petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari.

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