Farmers from five states file federal complaint against Army Corps of Engineers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Farmers from five states, including Kansas and Missouri, filed a mass action law suit Wednesday morning against the Army Corps of Engineers.

Attorneys from Polsinelli law firm filed a federal complaint seeking damages for lost land and way of life as a result of flooding in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas along the Missouri River Basin.

The lead counsel for the case Dan Boulware said the suit centers around four floods that occurred in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011, all of which received a Presidential Declaration for Disaster.

The complaint claims when the Corps changed its river management policies in 2004 to conform with environmental laws - including the Endangered Species Act, The National Environmental Protection Act, The Clean Water Act and the 2000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinions - farmers faced severe flooding and have not been adequately compensated for their losses.

"The Constitution essentially says that, if you are going to make people sacrifice their property for public good like protection of native species and wildlife, then you have to pay them just compensation," plaintiff co-counsel Benjamin Brown said. "That's what this case is about - ensuring that the federal government cannot place the entire financial burden of a broad societal initiative on the backs of a handful of farmers and communities."

According to the complaint, the Corp changed its water storage levels, altered release schedules, changed the structure of dams along the river to make it more shallow and created secondary channels - all of which, the farmers claim, increased the frequency and duration of floods.

The attorney did not disclose the specific dollar amount the complaint is seeking.

41 Action News has contacted the Corps and will provide its reaction as soon as it is received.

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