(CN) – The Ohio Department of Transportation did not take two families’ property from them when they damaged it during a construction project, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.
June Blank and her family owned a restaurant and flower shop in Cortland, Ohio. The Ohio Department of Transportation took control of a portion of the property in order to complete the expansion and renovation of Route 5.
The Blanks complained that ODOT damaged portions of their property that it has not taken. They said ODOT destroyed their parking lot, caused sewage to back up into their kitchen and restrooms, and cracked one of the walls of the restaurants.
The Kardassilaris family, which has a home and market in the area, made similar complaints. They said ODOT broke a natural gas line, and also caused water and sewage to back up into their market.
Both families sued to compel ODOT director James Beasley to take the damaged portions of property and compensate them accordingly. Beasley replied that the families should be claiming tort damages, not a property-taking action.
Justice O’Connell noted that the Wyoming Supreme Court and several other courts have ruled that damage in cases like this did not constitute property taking.
“Many of the contractor’s acts that caused damage to the Blanks’ and Kardassilarises’ property resulted from the contractor’s negligence and did not further the public purpose of improving State Route 5,” O’Connell wrote.
While ruling that the families must bring tort claims rather than takings claims against the state, O’Connell ruled that the families are entitled to money for the foreseeable damage to their properties caused by the parking of heavy equipment.