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Jupiter Inlet Corp. v. Tequesta, Village of

Citation: 7 ELR 20817
No. No. 76-783, 349 So. 2d 216/(Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 08/09/1977)

A municipality may be held liable in inverse condemnation when it takes water for a public purpose from a shallow aquifer under plaintiff's land if in so doing it deprives the surface owner of the beneficial use of the aquifer. The complaint in this case alleges that withdrawals from defendant's nearby wells have caused salt water intrusion into the shallow aquifer under plaintiff's land, making it unfit for use as a drinking water source for residents of condominium apartments located on the land; the complaint thus states a cause of action in inverse condemnation. The shallow aquifer beneath plaintiff's land is a form of private property which cannot be taken by governmental action for a public purpose without due process of law and the payment of full compensation. It is immaterial that the water was drawn from beneath plaintiff's land without any physical entry onto his surface property; the owner has still been deprived of the beneficial use of his property by governmental action. The court reverses the trial court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, but it certifies to the state supreme court the question of whether a municipality can be held responsible in an inverse condemnation action under these circumstances.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Paul C. Wolfe, Marjorie D. Gadarian
Jones, Paine & Foster
Flagler Court Bldg., West Palm Beach FL 33402
(305) 659-3000

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
John C. Randolph
Johnston, Sasser & Randolph
310 Okeechobee Rd., West Palm Beach FL 33401
(305) 655-0108

ALDERMAN, C.J., and DOWNEY, J., concur.