Cato supported the case in both the Louisiana Supreme Court and at the U.S. Supreme Court, but Violet Dock ultimately lost its case when the Supreme Court denied its petition. That allowed the taking to go forward but, under the Takings Clause, Violet Dock is still owed just compensation. Originally that was set at $16 million but was later raised to $29 million by a Louisiana court of appeals, with an additional $3.3 million in attorney fees. That was more than a year ago, but St. Bernard Parish still owes Violet Dock over $20 million, accruing $2,300 in interest per day. Violet Dock has filed another action against St. Bernard Parish, this time claiming that the failure to pay the judgment is also a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Cato has joined the National Federation of Independent Business and the Southeastern Legal Foundation on a brief in the Fifth Circuit urging the court to rule that St. Bernard Parish cannot withhold payment without violating the Takings Clause. We argue that a state court monetary judgment constitutes a protected property interest as a matter of state law, and therefore a public authority’s refusal to pay that judgment is itself a taking—separate from, and independent of, the original taking that culminated in the judgment.
This case has gone on for nine years. Originally it was shocking that Louisiana, and ultimately the Supreme Court, would allow a brazenly pretextual taking. Now, it is equally shocking that St. Bernard Parish refuses to pay the judgment. The Fifth Circuit should stop the parish’s recalcitrance and let Violet Dock’s owners finally get paid.