Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
In the absence of state or federal action, a court may not bar members of the public from lawfully asserting or exercising public trust rights on privately owned tidelands.
Plaintiff patentee, Larry H. Marks, Jr., was granted title to certain tidelands, a portion of which adjoined almost the entire shoreline of defendant upland owner's property. Defendant had a wharf on his property and travelled to and from it via plaintiff's property. In plaintiff's quiet title action, the trial court settled the boundary dispute, granted defendant an ingress-egress easement to the wharf, enjoined defendant from asserting any claim or right in or to plaintiff's property, and refused to consider or determine whether the tidelands were burdened by public trust. Defendant challenged the decision.
Did the trial court err in enjoining defendant from asserting any claim or right in or to plaintiff's property, and in refusing to consider or determine whether the tidelands were burdened by public trust?
On appeal, the court reversed the judgment. The court ruled that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter an injunction that prohibited defendant from asserting or in any way exercising public trust uses in the tidelands and the navigable waters covering them in his capacity as a member of the public. Moreover, the court ruled that it was within the province of the trier of fact to determine whether the parties' respective uses of the tidelands constituted an infringement either upon the jus privatum of plaintiff or upon the jus publicum of the people.