Wintergreen Group, LLC v. UDOT

Utah Supreme Court

2007 UT 75; 171 P.3d 418

     A constitutional cause of action rooted in the organic law of the State of Utah is presumptively superior to and must displace any statutory iteration that either conflicts with it or gives it less than full effect.  A constitutional cause of action can never be preempted by statute, regardless of how fully the statute honors the contours  of the constitutional claim.

     The right of a property owner to pursue a takings or inverse condemnation claim (i.e., a constitutional claim for just compenation) does not generally ripen until the landowner has been denied compensation.  Where a direct condemnation (or eminent domain) action has been filed, an inverse condemnation claim will not be ripe unti the direct condemnation action has been resolved.

     A property owner is not foreclosed from challenging either the adequacy of the condemnation process or the compensation that is owed.  Such a challenge could be made through a counterclaim to a direct condemnation action or through a separate lawsuit.  If the constitutional claims of a landowner suggest that the direct condemnation procedure is “unavailable or inadequate,” or that the remedies are incomplete or insufficient, the claims may sidestep ripeness challenges.

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