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Town of Oyster Bay v. Commander Oil Corporation

Court of Appeals of New York
759 N.E.2d 1233 (2001)


Commander Oil Corporation (Commander) (defendant) owned and operated a petroleum storage facility on land adjacent to Oyster Bay Harbor. The town of Oyster Bay (Town) (defendant) owned the underwater land in the harbor. Commander built a pier that extended from its land out into the harbor. Due to the accumulation of silt, Commander decided to dredge the basins under its pier in order to maintain adequate water depth for its barges. Commander performed the dredging with permission from the Town, under a lease agreement. Years later, after the lease agreement had expired, Commander wanted to dredge the basins again. Instead of seeking the Town’s permission to dredge, Commander applied to state and federal agencies. Commander was given permission to dredge on the condition that it receive permission from the Town. The Town sued Commander, seeking to stop Commander from dredging. The trial court denied the Town’s application for a permanent injunction. The trial court held that the basins were originally usable for barges, but the Town’s own storm-water runoff system had made the basins unusable without dredging. Therefore, Commander should be allowed to dredge to return the basins to their original usable condition. The appellate court reversed the ruling and granted the Town a permanent injunction. Commander appealed that decision to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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