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Phelps v. Bd. of Supervisors of Muscatine

Supreme Court of Iowa
211 N.W.2d 274 (Iowa 1973)


Facts

Phelps (plaintiff) owns land that lies in the flood plain of the Cedar River within Muscatine County, Iowa. In 1963, Muscatine County (defendant) began construction of a bridge across the river near Phelps’ property. The river flooded in 1965, when the bridge was mostly complete, and again in 1969, after it was completed. Phelps’ land was naturally subject to flooding, but he claimed that the construction of the bridge had increased the degree of the flooding. He brought suit against the County, arguing that the increase in flooding was a taking that entitled him to compensation for the damage to his property. The trial court ruled against him, holding that there was no taking because there was no way of knowing when the river would next flood and how much damage the future floods would cause. Phelps appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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