Illinois Farm Files Takings Lawsuit Against Federal Government

An Illinois farm filed a lawsuit last week for alleged taking of land near the Mississippi River by increased flooding caused by government action.

Plaintiffs Pecord Farms Inc. and H G Revocable Living Trustee Jerry Pecord claim their farmland in the alluvial plain of the Mississippi River in southwestern Alexander County, Illinois has experienced severe flooding since 2016 because of river training structures built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The flooding caused by the Corps’ aggressive manipulation of the River has disrupted and interfered with Plaintiffs’ reasonable, investment-backed expectations for the intended and customary use of their land and other property,” the lawsuit states.

The Corps began building river training structures in the early 20th century to increase the depth of the Mississippi River, which was previously only navigable in shallow draft vessels and often only seasonally, limiting its use for transportation. The portions of the river affecting the plaintiffs’ property now include the greatest densities of dike structures, both in number and length, in the world. These structures have caused the water surface elevation of the river to rise, leading to flooding that has ruined the agricultural value of the plaintiffs’ land, the lawsuit states. 

In addition, flooding from the river structures is exacerbated by the disrepair of the Len Small Levee, plaintiffs claim. The levee was built after the most destructive river flood in U.S. history: the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Since its construction, the federal government has assisted with repairs. However, after the levee was breached in 2016, resulting in unprecedented flooding, the government denied repair assistance, and the levee has remained damaged, according to court documents.

“For the first time, without the levee, Plaintiffs are now exposed to the increased flooding brought on by the Government’s engineering of the River that had gradually become the norm while Plaintiffs had enjoyed the Levee’s protection,” the lawsuit states. 

Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for lost property rights, deprivation and losses. They are represented by Flint Law Firm LLC