Common Law/Clean Water Act Action: Lawrence County Landowners Lawsuit Challenging Lawrence County, Arkansas Bridge

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

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A group of landowners and farmers (collectively “landowners”) filed an October 10th lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against Lawrence County, Arkansas. See No. : 3:17cv272-DPM.

The landowners’ lawsuit addresses a bridge they state was built by the County over the West Cache River Slough (“Slough”).

The Complaint alleges that the County replaced a wooden bridge with a:

. . . crude dirt and concrete embankment that had four rail boxcars acting as culverts to pass the entire flow in the Slough.”

The landowners allege in part that:

  • The bridge was built without consulting an engineer, architect, or hydrologist
  • Significant and obvious defects would have been identified by an engineer, architect or hydrologist
  • Logs, debris and sediment limit water flow and have caused flooding on the landowners’ property causing damage
  • A Clean Water Act 404 Permit was not obtained from the U.S. Corps of Engineers prior to construction
  • The Corps granted the County a 404 “after-the-fact” Permit which was premised on maintenance and clearing of debris

The Causes of Action alleged in the Complaint include:

  • Violation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
  • Public Nuisance (Ark. Code Ann. § 14-268-105)
  • Declaratory Judgment (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-15-703)
  • Inverse Condemnation
  • Violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983

The landowners request:

  • Damages for “lost crops and property values that have been destroyed”
  • Enjoin the County to remove the bridge and allow free flow of floodwaters and debris through the Slough unimpeded
  • Attorney fees, costs and recovery of expert fees

A copy of the Complaint without the exhibits can be downloaded here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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