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State ex rel. Haman v. Fox

594 P.2d 1093 (1979)

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State ex rel. Haman v. Fox

Idaho Supreme Court

594 P.2d 1093 (1979)

Facts

C.R.W. and Eileen Fox (defendants) owned waterfront property on a lake. The property was divided by a public road. The portion of the property south of the road and directly abutting the lake was mostly sandy beach. Since at least 1912, the general public used this beach portion of the property. Since at least 1920, the Foxes and their predecessors in interest maintained a seawall on the beach portion of the property, to protect the property from erosion caused by the lake. In 1971, the Foxes rebuilt the wall, making it a three-sided wall that effectively enclosed a portion of the beach, terminating public access. The State of Idaho (plaintiff) brought suit on behalf of its people, seeking to enjoin the Foxes’ use of the wall. The state argued that the public had obtained a prescriptive easement over the beach. The state alternatively argued that the public should be granted access to the beach via a finding of dedication, customary usage under the common law, and under the public-trust doctrine. The trial court ruled in favor of the Foxes. The court held that the public had not obtained a prescriptive easement, because the public’s use of the beach had been permitted by the Foxes and thus was not adverse. The state appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McFadden, J.)

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