Leo, Alfonsina and John Lech

Leo, Alfonsina and John Lech, are seeking compensation for the destruction of a home Leo and Alfonsina owned (and in which their son John lived with his own family) in Greenwood Village, Colo. In 2015, an armed shoplifter fleeing the police broke into the home (apparently at random) and refused to come out. After taking gunfire from the shoplifter, the police resorted to more strenuous means of attack, including explosives, high-caliber ammunition, and a battering ram mounted on a tank-like vehicle called a BearCat. The fugitive was apprehended, but the home was totaled.

The Lechs’ case, originally brought by Colorado attorney Rachel Maxam, who continues to represent the family alongside IJ, argued that the complete destruction of the house was a “taking” that required compensation under the U.S. Constitution. But a three-judge panel disagreed, ruling that actions by law enforcement officials could never amount to a “taking,” no matter what, and so the appropriate amount of compensation was zero dollars.

  • November 25, 2019    |   Immunity and Accountability

    If the government needs to destroy your home to build a freeway or a school, the Constitution entitles you to just compensation. But what if the government needs to destroy your home for some other reason—say, to capture a fugitive who has randomly taken refuge in your house while fleeing the police? Does the government…

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