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VAUGHN V. VERMILION CORP., 444 U. S. 206 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Vaughn v. Vermilion Corp., 444 U.S. 206 (1979)

Vaughn v. Vermilion Corp.

No. 77-1819

Argued October 1, 1979

Decided December 4, 1979

444 U.S. 206

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA,

THIRD CIRCUIT

Respondent, the lessee of land traversed by man-made navigable canals entering other naturally navigable waterways, filed suit in a Louisiana state court seeking permanent injunctions against petitioners from trespassing on the land and making use of the canals. Petitioners contended that, notwithstanding respondent's property rights, they were entitled as a matter of federal law -- without obtaining respondent's permission -- to enter the property, travel the canals, and engage in commercial fishing and shrimping activities. The trial court entered summary judgment for respondent, and the Louisiana Court of Appeal affirmed.

Held: While the public has no general right of use of channels built on private property and with private funds in such a manner that they ultimately join with other navigable waterways, Kaiser Aetna v. United States, ante p. 444 U. S. 164, nevertheless if petitioners prove their allegations that respondent's system of artificial waterways destroyed the navigability of surrounding natural waterways, it cannot be said as a matter of law that such proof would not constitute a defense under federal law to respondent's prayer for injunctive relief.

356 So.2d 551, affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.


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