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Palazzolo v. Rhode Island

United States Supreme Court
533 U.S. 606 (2001)



In 1971, a state agency in Rhode Island (defendant) adopted regulations designating an 18-acre plot of waterfront land as wetlands, making it nearly impossible to gain approval to build on most of the land. Several years later, Anthony Palazzo (plaintiff) became the owner of this land. In the 1980s, he applied twice for a permit to build a beach club on it. He was denied both times. Palazzolo filed a lawsuit in state court for damages. He claimed that the regulations were an inverse condemnation, also known as a regulatory taking, preventing him from using his own property. He alleged that the regulations constituted an uncompensated taking of his property, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. He sought damages of over $3 million. The trial court, appellate court, and state supreme court all rejected Palazzolo’s position, reasoning that Palazzolo couldn’t challenge regulations that were already on the books when he acquired his property. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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