Mississippi Supreme Court finds that artificial beach is public trust property

Harris v. State, 2018 WL 5839607 (Miss. Nov. 8, 2018).

Abutting landowners brought an action against the State of Mississippi, a city, and a county to confirm title to waterfront properties. A trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the landowners on the issue of tideland boundaries, confirmed the landowners’ title, and ruled that the government parties failed to prove adverse possession or public prescriptive easement. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Following a trial, the lower court held that Mississippi held title to the sand beach in front of landowners’ properties as public-trust tidelands and granted easements to the county and city. The landowners appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the beach was public-trust tidelands; the trial court acted within its discretion in relying on lay witness testimony that the beach was man-made; the expert report did not establish that beach was natural rather than man-made; and the pumping of sand along the shoreline did not constitute an uncompensated taking.

(Thanks for Mississippi Sea Grant National Law Center)