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State v. McIlroy

595 S.W.2d 659 (1980)

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State v. McIlroy

Arkansas Supreme Court

595 S.W.2d 659 (1980)

Facts

W. L. McIlroy and his late brother’s estate (the McIlroys) (plaintiffs) sued to stop canoeists from floating a stretch of the Mulberry River on the McIlroy property. A group that sponsored float trips called the Ozark Society and two canoe-rental companies (defendants) used a public bridge on the McIlroy property to access the river. McIlroy said he had confronted a group of about 600 Ozark Society members putting in at the bridge. McIlroy and other landowners testified that the canoeists littered, trespassed, and generally destroyed their property. The McIlroys claimed riparian rights superior to those of the public, arguing the river was not a navigable public waterway. McIlroy testified that sometimes the river could not float a canoe, but ample evidence established the river was floatable for at least six months of the year. Members of the public had fished, swum, and canoed the river for many years. The State of Arkansas intervened in the lawsuit, claiming the Mulberry was navigable such that the streambed belonged to the state, not the McIlroys. The trial judge found the Mulberry not navigable and that the McIlroys could keep the public from using the section on their property. Arkansas, the Ozark Society, and one canoe-rental company appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hickman, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Fogleman, C.J.)

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