Six O’Fallon property owners have filed a lawsuit against the city of O’Fallon, alleging six counts of “inverse condemnation.” Per LegalDictionary.net, inverse condemnation is defined as: “The taking of land, by a government entity, without providing just compensation. A legal action brought against a government entity for the taking of private property without formal or proper exercise of eminent domain.”
The plaintiffs are Robert Bystrom; C.E. and Susan Faron; Vicki Faron and Eric Heumann;
Roger Russell; Kim Ann Ryba [d/b/a Stonebridge Stables]; and Mike Tessereau. All have property adjacent to or near O’Fallon’s O’Day Park off St. Charles County Route DD, near Interstate 64.
The lawsuit was filed electronically on Nov. 25, 2019, in St. Charles County Circuit Court, 11th Judicial Circuit, and was assigned case number 1911-CC01159. The plaintiffs’ attorney is James Beal, from the Clayton-based law firm of Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP. The only action to-date is a summons served on the city of O’Fallon. Next steps in January will include O’Fallon assigning an attorney and having the attorney registered in court for the case.
The six, identical counts have each plaintiff seeking relief from alleged damage, deemed significant, due to the construction of O’Day Park.
During the Dec. 12 City Council meeting, those allegations were used as passionate opposition to a proposed bill [No. 7157] which covers phase 1 of the Streets of Caledonia residential plan. Speakers associated with the lawsuit claimed that construction of the Streets of Caledonia development would make damage to the O’Day Creek watershed even worse.
The second reading and vote for final passage of Bill 7157 likely will be conducted at the Jan. 9 council meeting.
According to plaintiff allegations, the design and construction of the park directly and proximately has caused among other things:
• Deforestation of the park, which causes further deforestation of the surrounding
• Water diversion that erodes, destroys, devalues and wastes plaintiffs’ properties.
• Unnatural light that shines on plaintiffs’ properties for prolonged periods.
• Increased noise levels.
• Increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
• The unnatural and significant accumulation of trash and the corresponding smells of trash in close proximity to the plaintiffs’ properties.
• The disturbance of each plaintiff’s peace.
• The destruction of each plaintiff’s quiet enjoyment of their homes.
Each count further states:
• The city owns, operates and manages the park.
Each count asks that the Court award each plaintiff damages, which exceed $25,000 and which incurred as a result of the city’s failures and behaviors as aforesaid, including without limitation:
• A financial loss of diminished property value between the value of the property prior to the condition complained of, and its lesser present value.
• Damages associated with the loss of use without just compensation.
• A permanent and total loss of the fair market value of the property immediately prior to the condition complained of.
• Real Estate taxes paid and/or owed on the property based on an inflated assessed valuation.
• The value of any and all personal property owned by the plaintiff that was damaged by the water accumulation.
• Relocation, remediation and or other costs incurred by the plaintiff by virtue of the damage caused by the city of O’Fallon.
• Pre-judgment interest on the condemnation damages from the date the city began building the park.
• That the court award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees incurred herein.
• That the court award costs incurred by the plaintiff.
• That the court enter such other and further orders as it deems appropriate in the circumstances.
Per its policy, the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.