Monday, April 29, 2013

Lake Michigan Federation v. United States Army Corps of Engineers case brief

Lake Michigan Federation v. United States Army Corps of Engineers case brief
742 F.Supp 441

CASE SYNOPSIS: The court had previously granted plaintiff, a non-profit environmental organization, a permanent injunction against defendant university, based on the public trust doctrine, that prevented the university from extending its campus into Lake Michigan. Before the court was the university's motion for reconsideration.

HOLDING: Although the university had abandoned its lakefill project, the court held the matter was not moot, because neither party regarded the motion as moot, the university renewed its request that the court decide the motion, and even though the university had publicly announced its abandonment of the lakefill project, there was no legal impediment which would prohibit a timely reversal of its position.

The court denied the motion for reconsideration and reaffirmed that the lakebed of Lake Michigan was held in trust for and belonged to the citizenry of the state. The conveyance of lakebed property to a private party -- no matter how reputable and highly motivated that private party might be -- violated the public trust doctrine, which provided that lakebed property was held in trust for the public and should not be ceded to a private entity. The environmental association's action was not precluded by laches, because there was no inexcusable delay, and the environmental association had aggressively opposed the lakefill from the inception of the project.

CONCLUSION: The court denied the university's motion for reconsideration in the environmental association's action that had previously resulted in the issuance of an injunction against the university under the public trust doctrine.

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