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Philadelphia Co. v. Stimson

223 U.S. 605 (1912)

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Philadelphia Co. v. Stimson

United States Supreme Court

223 U.S. 605 (1912)

Facts

Philadelphia Co. (plaintiff) was a corporation that owned Brunot’s Island in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania state commissioners, based on a state statute, determined the boundary line of the island according to the high-water and low-water lines. Some time after the boundary line was set, a considerable portion of the shore on the back channel was washed away and became slightly submerged. After that, the federal government had a dam constructed on the Ohio River near the island. As a result, a portion of the island became further submerged and became navigable. Later, the United States secretary of war established a harbor line that ran across the submerged portion of the island. The harbor line ran across an area that had been established to be within the island’s boundary from the state commissioners’ line. Philadelphia Co. filed a lawsuit and alleged that the secretary of war was not authorized to establish a harbor line over its land. Philadelphia Co. had developed a plan to construct a wharf or pier for its operations that would obstruct the harbor line. Philadelphia Co. sought to set aside the harbor lines and sought an injunction prohibiting the federal government from bringing criminal charges based on Philadelphia Co. asserting a claim to that land. The trial court granted a demurrer, or a motion to dismiss, and the appellate court affirmed. Philadelphia Co. petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hughes, J.)

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