Blog

REAL ESTATE 27: Subdivision dispute over riparian rights.

The individuals involved in this action are all owners of lots in the Park Subdivision. The subdivision was platted in 1917 and consists of 26 lots, a street, and a park that abuts a Lake. This case involves a dispute over riparian rights. Defendants (collectively the front-lot owners) appeal as of right the trial court’s order denying defendants’ motion for summary disposition, declaring as a matter of law under MCR 2.116(I)(1) that all lot owners in the Park Subdivision have a use easement in the platted park but no riparian rights, and dismissing all remaining claims as moot.

All of the individual plaintiffs (collectively the back-lot owners) own back lots. The back lots are separated from the Lake by both the front lots and the park. None of the back lots border the park or the lake.

In 2017, a dispute developed between the front-lot owners and back-lot owners over the use of the park and, specifically, rights to install docks and moor boats. The front-lot owners maintained that they exclusively owned the riparian rights in the park and that the back-lot owners only had an easement permitting them to use the park for customary park purposes that did not include the right to install docks or moor watercraft overnight or seasonally.

Plaintiffs, which included the back-lot owners and the Park Subdivision Association, filed a lawsuit seeking (1) a declaratory judgment that all subdivision lot owners held equal and coextensive rights regarding the ownership and use of the park and (2) to quiet title in favor of all lot owners with a declaration that all lot owners held fee simple title to the park.

When a person purchases property that is recorded in a plat, the purchaser receives both the interest described in the deed and the rights indicated in the plat.  The court’s task when interpreting a plat is to give effect to the plattor’s intent, and unambiguous language in a legal instrument is enforced as written.

A parcel is considered riparian land if it includes therein a part of or is bounded by a natural water course.  Owners of riparian land hold certain exclusive rights, including the right to erect and maintain docks, as well as to permanently anchor boats off the shore. The plat in the instant case shows that the eastern boundary of each front lot abuts the western boundary of the park and that the front lots thus do not extend any further east. The area of land designated as a park is situated between the front lots and the lake, with the eastern edge of the park abutting the lake. Hence, the front lots in this case are not riparian in the ordinary sense and do not satisfy this general definition of riparian land. Generally, it is an indispensable requisite that riparian land actually touches the water.

However, there are exceptions.  The possession of riparian rights by owners of property separated from the shoreline by only a road or walkway is grounded in the legal principles generally applicable to owners of property abutting roads. This rule is not based on the mere fact that such a property owner is closer to the water than the owner of what may be called a “back lot.”

The Court noted that the undisputed evidence that the original plattor had supplied the park with electricity, portable toilets, and picnic tables supported the conclusion that the original plattor intended to retain general control and, accordingly, ownership of the park.

The trial court determined that the plat dedication granted an easement to use the park to all of the lot owners and did not grant riparian rights to any lot owners.

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter? Our lawyers represent clients in a wide range of real estate litigation.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

REAL ESTATE 40: Tax Tribunal denied petitioner’s claim of a principal residence exemption (PRE).

MCL 211.7cc(2) provides that an owner of property can claim the PRE by filing an affidavit that must state that the property is owned and occupied as a principal residence by that owner of the property on the date that the affidavit is signed and shall state that the owner has not claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit on property in another state.

The Steps of Construction Litigation

Most contracting agreements move forward without any problems, but when disputes between contracting parties come up, it can be confusing to understand the legal process to take. The legal experts at Aldrich Legal Services want to make the...

REAL ESTATE 38: Plaintiff fails to make land contract payments.

The land contract stated that T Company sold real property to plaintiff. The land contract further stated that if plaintiff failed to make a monthly payment, T Company could execute the quitclaim deed, thereby terminating plaintiff’s rights to the real property under the land contract.

CONTRACTS 6: Do you understand the clauses in your Purchase Agreement?

The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition, concluding that the claims against the realty companies were barred by the valid release contained in the purchase agreement and that the claims against sellers were required to be resolved in arbitration because they fell within the scope of the arbitration clause in the purchase agreement.

DIVORCE 29: Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic is subject to modification.

As the name implies, periodic spousal support payments are made on a periodic basis. Periodic spousal support payments are subject to any contingency, such as death or remarriage of a spouse, whereas spousal support in gross is paid as a lump sum or a definite sum to be paid in installments. In addition, one major difference between the two types of spousal support is modifiability. Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic spousal support is subject to modification pursuant to MCL 555.28.1.

How to Dispute an Insurance Adjustment

When something drastic happens, many people need to take extra steps to rebuild your home, recover property, or pay medical bill collectors. Unfortunately, most people believe they have no backup plan if their insurance company refuses their claim...

PROBATE 28: Probate court enters a protective order providing support for a community spouse.

A probate court’s consideration of the couple’s circumstances cannot involve an assumption that the institutionalized spouse should receive 100% free medical care under Medicaid or an assumption that a community spouse is entitled to maintain his or her standard of living. Medicaid is a need-based program, and a Medicaid recipient is obligated to contribute to his or her care.

REAL ESTATE 36: Plaintiff argued that her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until the grandmother’s death.

Plaintiff’s interest in the subject property is best characterized as a remainder estate, because her right to possession of the property was postponed until the occurrence of a specific contingency, that being the deaths of the grandparents. Plaintiff pursued this action within the 15-year limitation period; accordingly, this action is not barred by MCL 600.5801(4).

LITIGATION 6: The terms of the agreement prevails over the course of performance.

The trial court determined that under the UCC, the express terms of the parties’ agreements prevailed over the course of their performance and course of dealing. Although a course of performance may show that parties have waived a specific contractual term under MCL 440.1303(6), the statute does not similarly provide that a course of dealing may demonstrate waiver.

PROBATE 27: Petitioner filed a petition for mental-health treatment.

In support of the allegations, petitioner attached clinical certificates from a physician and a psychiatrist who observed respondent at the hospital. Both doctors diagnosed respondent with bipolar disorder, determined that she displayed a likelihood of injuring herself and that she did not understand the need for treatment, and recommended a course of treatment that consisted of 60 days of hospitalization and 90 days of outpatient care.

5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Starting a Business

So, you have a great idea and the experience to back it up. You are in a great starting place, but you have some work to do before jumping into forming your own business. Consider the following steps before you begin the process of starting your...

FAMILY LAW 32: Trial court committed error in failing to address whether there was an established custodial environment.

On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court failed to make any findings regarding (1) the child’s established custodial environment, (2) the child’s best interests regarding the grant of primary physical custody to defendant, (3) the child’s best interests with respect to parenting time, and (4) the child’s best interests pertaining to the parties’ dispute over daycare.

PROBATE 25: Daughter removed as personal representative of the estate.

the probate court determined that Daughter J had managed the estate in a manner that promoted her own interests as a beneficiary over the interests of the estate. The probate court found that such management demonstrated mismanagement of the estate and that removal of Daughter J was therefore in the best interests of the estate.

4 Last Minute Ways to Avoid Foreclosure

One tough break seems to lead to another. If you get behind on mortgage payments, you could be in danger of having your house foreclosed upon by the bank. Lenders foreclose on real estate to recoup their losses. But this means you won’t have a...

5 Necessary Sections Your Prenuptial Agreement Needs

Many big decisions come with getting engaged. Planning for marriage can be exciting and romantic, although the thought of adding a prenuptial agreement may not stoke your passion, they can help you now and in the future. Prenuptial agreements are...

REAL ESTATE 32: Plaintiffs and defendants executed a second easement.

Plaintiffs requested that the trial court, either through reformation of the First Easement or interpretation of the Second Easement, quiet title in favor of plaintiffs and declare them to be the owners of an easement to access Lake Superior through the ravine on defendants’ property, enjoin defendants from interfering with their use of the easement, and order compensation for damages to the stairs.

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482