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Date: 02-13-2023

Case Style:

Perry Bonin, et al. Sabine River Authority of Texas, et al.

Case Number: 1:19-cv-00527

Judge: Michael J. Truncale

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Jefferson County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: John Powers Wolff, III for Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana

Jose De la Fuente for Texas Water Conservation Association

Description: Beaumont, Texas civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiffs who sued Sabine River Authority of Texas, et al. on inverse condemnation theories.

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The Plaintiffs are Texas and Louisiana property owners who allege that SRA-L and Sabine River Authority of Texas ("SRA-T") (collectively "Defendants") "took, damaged, or destroyed" their property by causing or contributing to a Sabine River flood that damaged their property. The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants caused a "deliberate release of water from the Toledo Bend spillway gates into the Sabine River" in March of 2016. The Defendants opened "nine spillway gates" over a twenty-four-hour period "in response to the fact that the water level had surpassed 172.5 feet." However, Plaintiffs claim that "the opening of the spillway gates was merely the ‘last straw’ in a series of deliberate actions which Defendants had taken in the days, months and years prior to the flooding." Plaintiffs alleged that homes, businesses, churches, and other properties along the Sabine River were flooded, "burial vaults were disinterred and scattered, and animals and livestock were killed, in the name of and by the authority of the Defendants...deliberately acting in the exercise of the powers granted [to them] by [their] respective State[s]."

Plaintiffs allege three specific types of deliberate actions:

a. Defendants deliberately chose to re-apply for and accept a renewal license to operate the facility in questions, knowing that there was a substantial certainty that downstream flooding would occur;

b. Defendants, notwithstanding clear authority from the Federal Energy Commission ("FERC") to operate the reservoir with a water level anywhere between 168.0 and 172.0 feet, chose to allow the water level to remain very close to this upper bound throughout the month of February 2016, despite their ability and authority to release water through the spillway gates at amounts greater than the 144cfs that Defendants caused to be released each day during February 2016; and

c. Defendants, notwithstanding clear authority from FERC to operate the reservoir with a water level anywhere between 168.0 and 172.0 feet, went from approximately August 2015 through and including the flooding at issue in March 2016 with only one of the two hydroelectric generators operational; having the other hydroelectric generator operating would have caused an addition 7,000-10,000 cfs of water to be released and thereby lower the water level.

Bonin v. Sabine River Auth. of Tex., 438 F.Supp.3d 747 (E.D. Tex. 2020)

Outcome: 02/10/2023 127 ORDER Staying and Administratively Closing Case without prejudice pending appeal. All pending motions are denied, without prejudice, for administrative and statistical purposes only. The parties are directed to submit a status report every six months. Signed by District Judge Michael J. Truncale on 2/10/23. (tkd, ) (Entered: 02/10/2023)

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