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Crooks v. State

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 28, 2018

STEVE CROOKS AND ERA LEA CROOKS
v.
STATE OF LA., DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

          APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 224, 262 HONORABLE JAMES HUGH BODDIE, JR., Ad Hoc

          Ronald J. Fiorenza, Joseph J. Bailey, Provosty, Sadler, deLaunay, Fiorenza & Sobel COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources

          Sean T. Porter, General Counsel, Division of Administration COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources

          Michelle M. White, Assistant Attorney General COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources

          Scott Johnson, Steven B. "Beaux" Jones, Harry J. Vorhoff, Ryan M. Seidemann, Assistant Attorneys General COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources

          V. Russell Purvis, Jr., Smith, Taliaferro & Purvis COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Steve Crooks, Era Lea Crooks

          J. Rock Palermo, III, Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Steve Crooks, Era Lea Crooks

          Christopher J. Piasecki, Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott,, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Steve Crooks, Era Lea Crooks

          Yolanda G. Martin, Daniel D. Henry, Jr., Nicholas T. "Cole" Garrett, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries COUNSEL FOR AMICUS CURIAE: Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

          Mark A. Begnaud, McCoy, Roberts & Begnaud, LTD., COUNSEL FOR AMICUS CURIAE: Red River Waterway District

          Mark D. Seghers Seghers & Perez, LLC COUNSEL FOR AMICUS CURIAE: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Marc T. Amy, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          D. KENT SAVOIE, JUDGE

         The Plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit, seeking to be declared owners of certain immovable property and to fix the boundary between their properties and State-owned property. The Plaintiffs further requested compensation for the inverse condemnation of the immovable property and repayment of royalties received by the State for oil, gas, and mineral activities that have taken place on the property. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, awarding compensation and attorney's fees, and the State now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, vacate in part and render judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 1962, the United States began constructing various structures [1] in and around the Catahoula Basin pursuant to a congressionally-authorized navigation project under the River and Harbor Act of 1960[2] to promote navigation on the Ouachita and Black Rivers. In association with the project, the State of Louisiana and the United States signed an "Act of Assurances." Under the Act of Assurances, the State agreed to:

a. Furnish free of cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights of way, including flowage rights in overflow areas, and suitable spoil-disposal areas necessary for construction of the project and for its subsequent maintenance, when and as required;
. . . .
c. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to construction and maintenance of the project[.]

         In connection with the project, the Catahoula Lake Water Level Management Agreement (hereinafter called the Water Level Management Agreement) was also developed and signed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers; the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior; and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The agencies confected the agreement to ensure that proper water level management would protect the wildlife and public recreational opportunities in the Catahoula Basin, including an area known as Catahoula Lake. Upon completion of the project in 1972, the record indicates that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service began managing water levels in and around the Catahoula Basin in accordance with a seasonal schedule outlined in the agreement. As intended, these water management activities increased water levels in the Catahoula Basin and prolonged the natural annual high-water fluctuations. The record indicates that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues to manage the water levels in the Catahoula Basin to this day. Further, the record indicates that the State exercises jurisdiction of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and has granted mineral leases in the area known as Catahoula Lake.

         On May 4, 2006, Steve Crooks and Era Lea Crooks filed a "Class Action Petition To Fix Boundary, For Damages And For Declaration Judgment." They alleged to be representatives of a class of landowners in the Catahoula Basin whose property is affected by the increased water levels from the project. The trial court ultimately certified the Plaintiffs as one class (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Plaintiffs"). However, the trial court ascertained that the resolution of some members' claims would require determining ownership of certain lands. Accordingly, the trial court subdivided the Plaintiff class into two distinct groups depending upon the locations of their properties. The trial court referred to the groups as the "Lake Plaintiffs" and the "Swamp Plaintiffs" and summarized their claims as follows:

The Lake Plaintiffs are seeking to have all lands between the ordinary low and ordinary high water mark of the Little River within the area known as Catahoula Lake to be declared owned by the class in accordance with Louisiana's laws of riparian ownership. . . . The Lake Plaintiffs have asserted additional claims seeking[:] a declaration that their lands have been unlawfully expropriated, without compensation, due to the significant obstructions to the natural drainage in and around the Catahoula Basin caused by the [project]; damages for the unlawful taking of their land because of this inverse condemnation; and to recover the mineral royalty and other payments derived from oil, gas, and mineral activities and productions received by the State of Louisiana from the immovable property that is the subject of these proceedings.
Separate and independent from the above, the Swamp Plaintiffs consists [sic] of the owners of "overflow lands" located in the southwestern portion of the Catahoula Basin. Much of the land bordering and lying outside Catahoula Lake was selected and approved as swampland and transferred to the state by the United States Government under the Swampland Acts of 1849 and 1850. It is not disputed that these lands are below an elevation of 36 feet mean sea level, and that their titles originated from patents issued by the [S]tate. Because of the State's acknowledgment that these plaintiffs' ownership is not disputed, [3] the only remaining issues with respect to these owners is whether the overflow lands have been unlawfully expropriated and, if so, the amount of damages necessary to compensate these plaintiffs for the unlawful taking of their land without compensation.

         The Lake Plaintiffs argued that, though referred to as a lake, the area known as Catahoula Lake actually constitutes the banks of a body of water in the Catahoula Basin called Little River and thus is owned by the Lake Plaintiffs in accordance with Louisiana's laws of riparian ownership.[4] They asserted that, prior to construction of the project and management of the water levels in the Catahoula Basin, Little River crossed the Catahoula Basin and seasonally overflowed its banks. They argued that, during overflow periods, Little River expanded across the entire Catahoula Basin and was mistakenly called Catahoula Lake. Thus, as detailed in the above quote, the Lake Plaintiffs sought to be declared owners of the area between the ordinary low water mark and the ordinary high water mark of Little River.[5]

         In response, the State filed a motion for partial summary judgment. In the motion, the State asserted that the third circuit made a legal determination in Sanders v. State, Dep't of Natural Res., 07-821 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/19/07), 973 So.2d 879, writ denied, 08-0438 (La. 4/18/08), 978 So.2d 352, that the area known as Catahoula Lake is, as a matter of law, a navigable lake as defined in the Louisiana Civil Code. Accordingly, the State asserted that the area known as Catahoula Lake is owned, as a matter of law, by the State, not the Plaintiffs.[6] The trial court granted the State's motion, and the Plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, a panel of this court reversed the grant of summary judgment, noting that the fundamental question of whether the area known as Catahoula Lake is a lake or a river was not an adjudicated issue in Sanders, 973 So.2d 879. Crooks v. State, Dep't of Natural Res., 11-920 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/7/11), 81 So.3d 47.

         Accordingly, the parties continued to litigate how to classify the area known as Catahoula Lake. The parties focused on the status of the area as of April 30, 1812, the year Louisiana entered the Union.[7] The Plaintiffs argued that, in 1812, the area known as Catahoula Lake was merely the seasonal overflow of Little River. In contrast, the State argued that, in 1812, the area known as Catahoula Lake was a distinct lake bed that experienced seasonal variations in water level. The State ultimately filed a reconventional demand, which stated, in pertinent part:

Wherefore, the State, as plaintiff-in-reconvention:
. . . .
2) Prays that after due proceedings be had there be judgment in favor of plaintiff-in-reconvention, the State of Louisiana, and against defendants-in-reconvention, the Plaintiff Class, recognizing that Catahoula Lake is a lake and the State owns the bed and waters below the ordinary high water mark and dismissing all claims asserted by the Plaintiff Class/defendants in reconvention at their cost[.]

         As an alternative to its merits argument that the area known as Catahoula Lake was, as a matter of law, a lake in 1812, the State filed a peremptory exception of no right of action, which was referred to the merits. The State alleged that the Plaintiffs do not have a direct right of action against the State for any inverse condemnation actions for which the United States may be responsible because the Act of Assurances is not a third-party beneficiary contract (also referred to as a "stipulation pour autrui"[8]). Under the exception, the State also argued that "[u]nder long-standing United States Supreme Court jurisprudence a right of action for just compensation for a taking by the United States only inures to those persons owning a parcel at the time it was taken." The State claimed that because the Plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate their ownership at the time of the inverse condemnation, which the State alleged had occurred in 1972 upon completion of the project when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service began to manage the water levels in the Catahoula Basin, they lacked a right of action to proceed.

         As another alternative to its merits argument that the area known as Catahoula Lake was, as a matter of law, a lake in 1812, the State also filed a peremptory exception based on liberative prescription prior to trial. According to the record, the peremptory exception of liberative prescription was also referred to the merits by agreement of the parties and the trial court in lieu of a separate hearing. The State argued that, even if the Lake Plaintiffs were the legal owners of the area known as Catahoula Lake, both the Lake Plaintiffs' and the Swamp Plaintiffs' claims were prescribed based on 28 U.S.C.A. § 2501.[9] Alternatively, the State asserted that the Plaintiffs' claims were prescribed based on the prescriptive periods found in either La.R.S. 13:5111[10] or the pre-revision version of La.R.S. 9:5624.[11]

         After a bench trial on the merits, the trial court issued written reasons for judgment and provided the following description of the Catahoula Basin, the area known as Catahoula Lake, and Little River (alteration in original):

The unique characteristics of Catahoula Lake and indeed the Basin itself cannot be overemphasized since it is truly a "one of a kind," geographic area. The Catahoula Basin is an area of very flat land located in the parishes of Rapides, Grant, and LaSalle that forms a platter extending outward from the channel of Little River. Because of the unusual topography of the basin, the slope of the river's bank is extremely gradual. A description of Catahoula Lake can be found in the "Catahoula Lake Area Report" presented to Governor Kennon and the Louisiana Legislature by the Louisiana Department of Public Works in 1954:
The lake bed proper has a length of about 14 miles and an average width of 3 miles covering an area of some 42 square miles or about 27, 000 acres. The western Louisiana uplands adjoin the lake bed on the west and northwest. To the south and southeast of the lake bed lies alluvial area. The lowest portion of the lake's bed of any appreciable extent is at elevation 27 feet m.s.l…. The principal tributary to the lake is Little River which enters the lake at its southwest end. It traverses the lake in a relatively wide and shallow channel to the northeast end of the lake, a total distance of about 15 miles. Outflow from the lake is principally through French Fork and Old River which join at Lavaca forming Little River down which the flow is carried to Black River at Jonesville. One other principal outlet or distributary of the lake, which serves mostly for flood flows, is Big Saline Bayou which emerges from the lake near its southwest end meandering southeasterly to join Red River. Other outlets for flood waters are Sandy, Indian, Muddy, Cypress and Big Bayous, all of which lead off in a southeastern direction through either Saline Lake or Larto Lake to Red River.
. . . .
A watershed area of 2, 672 square miles contributes to the lake. The area is composed principally of upland hilly timbered area and extends generally northwestward from the lake to Ruston and the vicinity of Arcadia, an airline distance of some 80 miles with an average width of about 33 miles. Little River drains an area of 2, 555 square miles above its entry into the lake.

         Ultimately, the trial court found in favor of the Plaintiffs. First, the trial court concluded that, in 1812, the area known as Catahoula Lake constituted the banks of Little River. Therefore, the trial court declared the Lake Plaintiffs to be the owners of the area known as Catahoula Lake according to Louisiana's laws of riparian ownership. In turn, the trial court further held that the Lake Plaintiffs are entitled to the royalties received by the State for oil, gas, and mineral activities that took place in the area known as Catahoula Lake between May 2003 and the date of trial.[12]

         In deciding the exception of no right of action, the trial court found that the United States is the party that inversely condemned the Plaintiffs' lands. The trial court stated that the Act of Assurances signifies an agreement by which the State became an indemnifier of the United States, and the trial court further concluded that the Plaintiffs could bring their inverse condemnation claims directly against the State because the Plaintiffs are third party beneficiaries of the Act of Assurances, which, the trial court reasoned, constitutes a stipulation pour autrui. The trial court also addressed the State's argument that "a right of action for just compensation for a taking by the United States only inures to those persons owning a parcel at the time it was taken." The trial court acknowledged that only one Plaintiff demonstrated ownership prior to 1973, which is the year after the project was completed and the Water Level Management Agreement was implemented. Nonetheless, citing Eagle Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. Amerada Hess Corp., 10-2267, 10-2272, 10-2275, 10-2279, 10-2289 (La. 10/25/11), 79 So.3d 246, the trial court concluded that a subsequent purchaser can assert a right of action when, as "in the case sub judice, there is obviously continuing, persistent, and ongoing tortious acts creating a continuing tort." Thus, the trial court denied the State's exception of no right of action.

         In deciding the State's exception of liberative prescription, the trial court concluded that La.R.S. 9:5624, which provides a two-year prescriptive period to bring an action when private property is damaged for public purposes, was inapplicable to the case. The court found compelling the case of Roberson v. Lincoln Parish Police Jury, 39, 418 (La.App. 2 Cir. 3/23/05), 899 So.2d 636, wherein the second circuit found that injunctive relief for the natural servitude of drain did not prescribe. Next, the trial court concluded that the three-year prescriptive period found in La.R.S. 13:5111 was inapplicable. Citing Cooper v. Louisiana Dep't of Pub. Works, 03-1074 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/3/04), 870 So.2d 315, the trial court indicated that La.R.S. 13:5111 only applies when property is taken by the State and concluded, based on the facts of this case, that the property in this case was damaged by the United States.[13]

         The trial court eventually concluded that the relevant prescriptive period is the one-year period for a claim involving damage to immovable property as found in La.Civ.Code art. 3493 and further found that there is no prescriptive period for the injunctive relief for the natural servitude of drain.[14] However, despite concluding that the Plaintiffs were aware or should have been aware of the increased inundation no later than 1973, [15] the trial court further determined that the one-year prescriptive period had not begun to run on the Plaintiffs' claims in 1973 because the "increased duration of the flooding of [the Plaintiffs'] lands constitutes continuing tortious conduct." The trial court cited Cooper, 870 So.2d 315, and discussed the continuing tort doctrine, noting: "The continuing tort doctrine recognizes that in some instances, there is no single wrongful act that 'causes' the damage. Instead, there are continuous or repeated wrongful acts, each of which creates a new harm. Until those wrongful acts cease, prescription does not run." Thus, the trial court concluded that the Plaintiffs' inverse condemnation claims had not prescribed according to the continuing tort doctrine, and the trial court held that the Plaintiffs were entitled to an inverse condemnation award.

         The trial court summarized its holdings as follows:

(1) the body of water in the Catahoula Basin in 1812 was a permanent river that seasonally overflowed and covered its banks;
(2)the riparian owners ("Lake Plaintiffs") are the legal owners of these river banks; (3) the state is legally responsible and liable for the wrongful expropriation (inverse condemnation) of the plaintiffs' lands because of the significant obstruction of the natural servitude of drainage; (4) these expropriation damages total $28, 745, 438.40 (i.e., 22, 813.84 acres multiplied by $1, 260 per acre) for the riparian landowners, and $9, 550, 800 (i.e., 7, 580 acres multiplied by $1, 260 per acre) for the owners of the overflow lands ("Swamp Plaintiffs"), all subject to legal interest from the date of judicial demand until paid; and (5) the riparian landowners are entitled to a total award of $4, 694, 309.68 together with legal interest from the date of judicial demand until paid, which sum represents the oil and gas royalties attributable to the mineral production from these river banks between May of 2003 and the date of trial.

         Thereafter, the trial court also awarded attorney fees totaling $22, 075, 843.77. The trial court held that seventy-five percent (75%) of the total award ($16, 556, 882.82) shall qualify and be assessed against the State pursuant to La.R.S. 13:5111(A), [16] while twenty-five percent (25%) of the total award ($5, 518, 960.95) shall qualify and be assessed against the common fund pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. art. 595. [17] Additionally, the trial court awarded to the Plaintiffs $353, 297.34 for the reimbursement of the Plaintiffs' expert witness fees; $89, 067.45 for the reimbursement of other miscellaneous costs incurred; and $168, 000.00 as a provisional amount for the administration of the claims process post-trial. The trial court further awarded $10, 000.00 as a class representative incentive award to Mr. Crooks. The trial court similarly divided these awards, assessing seventy-five percent (75%) of each total award against the State and twenty-five percent (25%) against the common fund.

         The State appeals, asserting as error that:

1.The district court erred in determining that Catahoula Lake is not a lake.
a. The district court erred in not finding that, under Louisiana law, a lake can be seasonally dry and still qualify as a lake.
b. The district court erred in its application of the multi-factor test established by the Louisiana Supreme Court in State v. Placid Oil Co., 300 So.2d 154 (La.1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1110 (1975), for determining whether a body of water is a river or a lake.
2. The district court erred in finding that the Appellees have the right to assert a takings claim against the State.
a. The district court erred in finding that the "Act of Assurances" between the United States and the State constitutes a stipulation pour autrui.
b. The district court erred in finding that Appellees who purchased their properties after 1973 could assert a taking claim for actions occurring before 1973.
3. The district court erred in finding that prescription on the Appellees' takings claims did not begin to run in 1973 when they became aware of the permanent flooding of their respective properties.
a. The district court erred in applying tort doctrine to an appropriation claim.
b. In the alternative, if the application of tort doctrine is appropriate, the district court erred in finding that the increased water level resulting from the construction and maintenance of the Project is a continuing tort.
4. The district court erred in its measure of damages and attorney's fees.
a. The district court erred in awarding damages for the taking of property belonging to non-class riparian landowners.
b. The district court erred in not setting the location of the ordinary low water mark to accurately determine the size of the allegedly taken property.
c. The district court committed legal error by valuing the allegedly taken property at the time the Appellees' [sic] filed their petition and not at the time of the alleged taking.
d. The district court erred in employing an unsupportable methodology for determining reasonable attorney's fees, which resulted in an award of over $16.6 million.

         On appeal, the State has also filed exceptions of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, no right of action, nonjoinder, and acquisitive prescription.

         DISCUSSION

         Exception of Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction on Appeal

         On appeal, the State has asserted an exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The State alleges that the trial court's final judgment lacks the necessary decretal language to qualify as a final judgment, such that this court never acquired subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. In particular, the State contends that the trial court's judgment fails to name the plaintiffs with particularity, instead referencing their property locations on maps and referring to them as the "Lake Plaintiffs" and the "Swamp Plaintiffs." The State also alleges that the judgment lacks the necessary decretal language because it does not provide a clear directive as to the allocation of the monetary awards to the individual parties. Rather, as the State points out, the judgment generally awards $9, 550, 800.00 to the Swamp Plaintiffs and $28, 745, 438.40 and $4, 694, 309.68 for the inverse condemnation and royalties claims, respectively, to the Lake Plaintiffs. Lastly, the State argues that the judgment lacks the necessary decretal language because it does not describe the immovable property with particularity.

         According to La.Code Civ.P. art. 1918, "[a] final judgment shall be identified as such by appropriate language." As a panel of this court has explained, "[u]nless appellate jurisdiction is properly invoked by a valid final judgment, the appellate court cannot determine the merits of an appeal." Goal Properties, Inc. v. Prestridge, 14-422, p. 3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/5/14), 150 So.3d 610, 613.

         The State's first argument that the final judgment does not contain sufficient decretal language relates to the description of the Plaintiffs. In the judgment, the trial court referenced the Plaintiffs as the "Lake Plaintiffs" and the "Swamp Plaintiffs" and referred to a map attached as part of the judgment, which lists the Plaintiffs' names according to the locations of their properties. In Goal Properties, Inc., 150 So.3d at 613, a panel of this court explained:

In order to constitute a final appealable judgment, the "judgment must contain decretal language, and it must name the party in favor of whom the ruling is ordered, the party against whom the ruling is ordered, and the relief that is granted or denied." Frank v. City of Eunice, 13-1118, p. 3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/5/14), 134 So.3d 222, 225. These requirements should be evident without reference to other documents in the record. Id.

         Here, the specific names of the Plaintiffs are included on the map, and the map is a part of the final judgment. Accordingly, the names of the parties are discernable without reference to extrinsic documents or pleadings. See Vanderbrook v. Coachmen Indus., Inc., 01-809 (La.App. 1st Cir. 5/10/02), 818 So.2d 906.

         In its next argument, the State alleges that the judgment lacks the necessary decretal language because it does not provide a clear directive as to the allocation of the monetary awards to the individual parties. The trial court's judgment awarded, on a price per acre basis, $28, 745, 438.40 and $4, 694, 309.68 to the Lake Plaintiffs for the alleged inverse condemnation and mineral interests, respectively, and $9, 550, 800.00 to the Swamp Plaintiffs for the alleged inverse condemnation. We find this contains a sufficiently clear directive regarding the allocation of the monetary awards.

         The State's last argument relates to the description of the property. Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 1919 provides, in pertinent part: "All final judgments which affect title to immovable property shall describe the immovable property affected with particularity." See also La.Code Civ.P. art. 2089.[18] In the final judgment, the trial court described the land that the trial court concluded is owned by the Lake Plaintiffs as:

[T]he river banks in the Catahoula Basin consisting of 22, 813, 84 acres of lands located between the ordinary low water mark of the Little River and the ordinary high water mark of 36 feet mean sea level of the Little River, which lands are depicted in light blue and referred to as the bed and bottom of the so-called "Catahoula Lake" on the State's exhibit introduced into evidence and identified as FW 202, a copy of which is attached hereto and made part of this final judgment.

         Further, the trial court described the Swamp Plaintiffs' property as:

[T]he 7, 580 acres of land patented by the State of Louisiana in the southwestern portion of the Catahoula Basin, which lands are identified as property listing nos. 29 through 83, and as the lands owned by W.H. Ward Properties, Inc., on the State's exhibit introduced into evidence and identified as FW 202, a copy of which is attached hereto and made part of this final judgment.

         We find this constitutes a sufficient property description for jurisdictional purposes. Accordingly, the State's exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction is denied.

         Ownership of the Area Known as Catahoula Lake

         As discussed above, the trial court held that, at the time Louisiana entered the Union in 1812, the area known as Catahoula Lake was a permanent river that seasonally overflowed and covered its banks. From this holding, the trial court next held that the Lake Plaintiffs are the legal owners of these river banks based on Louisiana's laws of riparian ownership. See, e.g., La.Civ.Code art. 456. The State asserts that the trial court erred in finding that the area known as Catahoula Lake is not a lake. As alternative arguments, the State has filed an exception of no right of action and a peremptory exception of acquisitive prescription pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. art. 927 on appeal prior to submission of the case for decision.

         In the exception of no right of action asserted on appeal, the State argues that even if the Lake Plaintiffs are the owners of the area known as Catahoula Lake, they do not have the requisite property interest to bring an inverse condemnation claim. In particular, the State explains that, because this is a federal navigation project that was constructed and is still maintained by the United States, the United States has a flowage servitude over the property below the ordinary high water mark by virtue of the federal navigation servitude. In opposition, the Lake Plaintiffs argue, in part, that the definition of ordinary high water mark for the federal navigation servitude is not the same ...


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