Yelsen Land Company v. South Carolina

In 1969, the State sued Appellant Yelsen Land Company alleging that the State owned "all tidelands, submerged lands, and waters" adjacent to Morris Island.  Appellant answered and claimed it owned all the tidelands, submerged lands, and marshes adjacent to Morris Island. Appellant also counterclaimed for trespass on those lands by the Corps of Engineers in the form of spoilage dredged from Charleston Harbor, the digging of a ditch, and the erection of a dike. In the first appeal, the Supreme Court held that the legal questions of title to the land should be tried to a jury and that the trial judge erred in denying the State a jury trial. The jury returned a general verdict for the State, having been charged that title to tidelands, submerged lands, and all land below the high water mark on navigable streams were presumptively the State's unless the entity claiming title can show a specific grant from the sovereign that included the words "to the low water mark."  It was also charged that it was to determine title to marshlands and to return damages for appellant if it found the State had trespassed on marshland owned by appellant or if it found a taking. Following the jury verdict, Appellant moved for a judgment non obstante verdicto and a new trial, both of which the trial judge denied in a written order. In 2007, Appellant brought this suit against the State contending that the dredging spoils placed in the tidelands had created new highlands, and that as the adjacent highland owner, it was the owner of the newly “accreted” highlands as well.  The State Ports Authority (SPA) sought to intervene, but in lieu of intervention, Appellant was permitted to amend its complaint to add the SPA. A Master granted the State and the SPA summary judgment, and Appellant appealed.  The Supreme Court affirmed, finding res judicata applied to bar Appellant's attempt to relitigate title to the property. View "Yelsen Land Company v. South Carolina" on Justia Law