Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nebraska v. Iowa case brief

Nebraska v. Iowa
Property Law Case Brief

Subject: Boundary Disputes, Accretion, Avulsion.

Case Overview:
Nebraska (Plaintiff) sued Iowa (Defendant) in a dispute over their shared boundary as defined by the Missouri River.

Case Facts:
The boundary between Nebraska and Iowa is defined by the Missouri River. For several years, the course of the river had been fluctuating rapidly. A dispute eventually arose as to whether a portion of the boundary should continue to follow the river.

Are the natural changes in the course of the Missouri River sufficiently rapid to constitute avulsion as opposed to accretion?


Except in special cases, the changes are not sufficiently rapid to constitute avulsion.

Although the course of the Missouri River changes unusually quickly be- cause of its easily eroded banks, such changes nonetheless constitute accre- tion rather than avulsion. In general, soil eroded from one bank breaks up into fine particles that then mix with the water, so that no distinguishable transfer of land from one bank to the other occurs. That this change occurs more rapidly than in other rivers does not affect is nature as accretion. In the current case, however, evidence suggests that the river did cut through an oxbow bend, thereby abandoning its old path entirely. Such an event should be considered avulsion, and the interstate boundary should be defined by the old riverbed. A surveyor should be employed to determine the boundary if necessary.

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