Johnson v. City of SuffolkAnnotate this Case
In this inverse condemnation action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendants' demurrers and dismissing the case, holding that the circuit court properly granted the demurrers.
Plaintiffs, who leased oyster grounds from the Commonwealth for the purpose of raising oysters in the Nansemond River, filed an inverse condemnation claim against the City of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District alleging that discharge from a sewer system operated by Defendants polluted the river's waters, thereby preventing Plaintiffs from properly managing their oyster ground leases. The circuit court granted Defendants' demurrers and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the limited nature of the property interest conferred by a lease of state-owned bottomlands for the purpose of raising oysters forecloses recovery in an inverse condemnation action; and (2) prior takings cases involving different property interests did not control the Court's disposition of Plaintiffs' takings claim here.