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Ramsey River Rd. Property Owners Ass'n v. Reeves

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20843
Nos. No. 80-C-2261, 396 So. 2d 873/(La., 03/02/1981)

After upholding plaintiff's standing to sue, the Louisiana Supreme Court holds that because the Bogue Falaya River is navigable at the point where defendants intend to construct a bridge the trial court properly issued an injunction against enjoining the construction of the bridge until defendants comply with applicable federal and state laws. The court finds that Louisiana law gives nonprofit corporations such as plaintiff the right to sue in the corporate name and that plaintiff has demonstrated a real and actual interest in the litigation sufficient to give it standing. The court notes that under the "equal footing" doctrine Louisiana has sovereign ownership rights in the beds of navigable rivers. Since navigability is determined by the status of the river at the time of admission to the union for states other than the original 13, the court concludes that the river was capable of being used for commercial purposes at the time of Louisiana's admission and thus is navigable today. The dissent finds that the injunction is improper because the record does not indicate that there are any government requirements applicable to the construction of this bridge, or that the river was ever navigable.

Counsel for Plaintiff
J. Arthur Smith III
524 France St., Baton Rouge LA 70802
(504) 383-7716

Frederick W. Ellis
Sklar, Nachman, Schmidt & Bowsher
830 North St., Baton Rouge LA 70802
(504) 383-8600

Counsel for Defendants
Perrin C. Butler
Suite 1215, Elk Pl. Plaza, New Orleans LA 70112
(504) 581-2792

James D. Johnson
P.O. Box 1598, Hammond LA 70404

DIXON, C.J., dissents with reasons.