Winkler v. Petersilie

124 Fed. Appx. 925 (2005)

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Winkler v. Petersilie

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
124 Fed. Appx. 925 (2005)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

Betty Managoff owned a tract of land on the Watauga River. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built a dam and filled Watauga Lake pursuant to a flowage easement that granted rights to flood the land up to 1,980 feet above sea level (the 1980’ line). The lake flooded part of Managoff’s land, creating a cove. Managoff built a fish camp on one side and a subdivision on the other. The lake never actually reached the 1980’ line, fluctuating from 17 to 50 feet lower. Because the subdivision plat described the boundary as the “TVA 1980 elevation line,” the lakefront lots did not reach the water. Instead the deeds expressly granted “the right of egress and ingress to and from said lot and extending to the waters of Watauga Lake,” or “water front privileges . . . with the free right to ingress and egress along the 1980 TVA elevation line.” George Winkler and others (the landowners) (plaintiffs) bought lakefront lots that were steep and rocky, making accessing the lake difficult and dangerous. The landowners obtained permits from the TVA to build stairs and docks extending below the 1980’ line. The permits expressly stated that they did not convey any property interests. Central Florida Capital Enterprises (CFCE) (defendant) bought the land under the lake up to the 1980’ line, and Frank Petersilie (defendant) began operating the marina. Petersilie insisted the landowners did not have rights to build stairs or docks or otherwise access the lake without paying CFCE rent. After Petersilie posted “no trespassing” signs, spraypainted the 1980’ line, cut off stairs, and towed docks away, the landowners sued. The district court found the deeds granted the landowners riparian rights through an easement for free access and use of the lake as permitted by the TVA. Petersilie and CFCE appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Guy, J.)

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