Matthew L. McIlroy and his father William L. McIlroy own a farm near Van Buren in the Ozark Mountains that was settled in 1808 and that is made up of three parcels in Franklin County, Arkansas northeast of Fort Smith. The farm is abutted by the Ozark National Forest, which was proclaimed in 1908 and in which a Job Corps camp is located near Cass.
In the late 1960s, the family complained that Job Corps students were trespassing on and littering its property, damaging its fences, and destroying its hay. In 1971, the family discovered the Forest Service had drilled a well on its property. Forest Service officials claimed that the well, used as a water source for Job Corps facilities, was on federal land. For years, a series of top officials repeated that statement, despite the family’s protestations.
In 1973, the Job Corps tore down a 100-year old levee built upstream of the farm at the confluence of Mulberry River and Fane’s Creek to protect the farm and the site of the Job Corps facility, which caused flooding and erosion downstream, alteration of the river bed due to silting and deposits of eroded rock, and destruction of 10 acres of the farm. Further illegal actions worsened the problem by widening a water channel across the farm.
In 1998, the family discovered part of its fence had been flattened, a sewage effluent line installed over it and across 50-60 yards of the farm, and Job Corps sewage effluent discharged from the line into Mulberry River. Then the Forest Service installed a “temporary” water line across the McIlroys’ property and blocked entry to the farm, used heavy equipment to blade dirt and drag drainage ditches, built a service road across the farm, poured concrete on the road, caused serious erosion, destroyed fences, and loosed family livestock.
On August 30, 2013, Mr. McIlroy filed a nearly five million dollar administrative claim pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which allows lawsuits against federal agencies for the tortious acts of their employees after the claim has been filed and rejected and/or ignored for six months. The United States did not respond. On July 28, 2014, the McIlroy family filed its (FTCA) lawsuit against the United States of America. On October 20, 2014, the United States filed an answer. From January 15, 2015, through June 15, 2015, the parties conducted discovery. On July 30, 2015, both parties filed motions for summary judgment. On August 27, 2015, the parties filed their response briefs. On September 4, 2015, Mr. McIlroy's reply brief was filed. On October 28, 2015, the parties filed a stipulation of settlement, wherein the United States agreed to pay the McIlroys all damages requested in the McIlroys’ motion for summary judgment, remove certain structures from the McIlroys’ land, and cease use of the McIlroys’ properties. On May 1, 2016, removal of the structures from the McIlroys' property was completed.