Monday, January 31, 2022

Baker v. City of McKinney Civil Lawsuit Update

Last November, a judge in the US District Court denied the city of McKinney’s motion to dismiss Ms. Baker's case. Please review the ruling and history of this case here.  

Please see the background of the case here. Ms. Baker is represented by the Institute for Justice, a non-profit that takes abuse of government cases. 

Vicki Baker's house after it was destroyed (Institute for Justice).

The city offered Ms. Baker a settlement at some point recently. Ms. Baker rejected the settlement. I contacted someone with IJ’s communications department, Mr. King, to ask why Ms. Baker rejected the settlement. I also asked about a few rumors I have heard about this case.

1.  Why did Ms. Baker reject the settlement?  

Mr. King sent me back the following to be attributed Jeffrey Redfern, the IJ attorney representing Ms. Baker sent via email:

The city did eventually offer to pay for the full costs of Vicki’s repairs, but not until after she had already filed suit and won the motion to dismiss (the city’s attempt to have her case thrown out).


Vicki did not accept this settlement offer from the city because she wants them to include an assurance that individuals who are in similar situations in the future can be compensated without having to sue the city. They’ve refused to grant her this assurance, so she’s continuing her case to protect other McKinney residents from having to go through a similar ordeal in the future.”


If the city of McKinney had compensated Ms. Baker when she asked for compensation—anytime between the time her house was destroyed in July of 2020 to March of 2021 when she sued for compensation— there would be no lawsuit. As of December 17th, the taxpayers are $50k in the hole for something that should have never gotten this far.


2.  Was Ms. Baker responsible for this whole thing because she was “harboring a criminal?”

"Neither Ms. Baker nor her daughter are remotely at fault for what happened. Ms. Baker’s daughter let the armed fugitive into the house because she was quite reasonably terrified of him, but she also immediately fled and contacted the police."

According to the redacted police reports, the IJ, and the judge’s opinion from November 18th denying the city’s request for dismissal, there was no harboring of a criminal involved in this ordeal. 


3.   Is this suit now something the city must see to the end because certain immunities (tort?) are at stake for all cities?


“Tort immunity has nothing to do with this case, and the federal court has already held that this is not a tort suit. This is a suit demanding just compensation under the U.S. and Texas constitutions because the city intentionally destroyed Ms. Baker’s property for the public purpose of apprehending a dangerous criminal. If the city takes your house to build much-needed school, road, or jail, the city has to compensate the owner, even though the city did nothing wrong. As the Supreme Court has explained, “[t]he Fifth Amendment's guarantee that private property shall not be taken for a public use without just compensation was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.” Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40 (1960).


Remember, just 5 short years ago, the city of McKinney justified a continued legal battle with Arch Resorts because of the impact it would supposedly have on the future of the city and all home rule cities. The city finally ended the Arch Resorts battle after over $500k in legal fees and a $1.9M settlement. The incoming mayor, the current mayor, was very eager to get the case settled because it was a waste of money. This case is no different. 

CORRECTION: All comment attributions go to Jeffrey Redfern, IJ attorney for Ms. Baker.

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