Livingston v. Van Ingen

9 Johns. 507 (1812)

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Livingston v. Van Ingen

New York Court for the Correction of Errors
9 Johns. 507 (1812)

Facts

Livington (plaintiff) had been granted an exclusive right to use a steamboat to navigate the Hudson River. Livingston filed suit against Van Ingen (defendant), seeking a restraining order to prevent Van Ingen from using a steamboat to navigate the Hudson River. Livingston’s right had been granted by a state statute, which prescribed a remedy for violating the statute. At the trial court level, the court found for Van Ingen. This ruling was based on the ancient Justinian code’s principle of common enjoyment of waterways. Specifically, the trial court found that allowing one person or group of people exclusive rights regarding a river would violate the rights of others who were excluded, which the court found to be a violation against the constitutional protection of the privileges and immunities of all states. Livingston appealed this ruling, arguing that the legislature did have the authority to restrict the commercial use of waterways. Another concern was whether the legislature had the right to essentially create a monopoly in a new mode of travel, the steamship.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kent, J.)

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