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Civil Law Property
Southern University Law Center
Vance, Shawn D.

Property Outline

I. Common, Public, and Private Things
a. Divisions of things (448)-
i. Common, public and private;
ii. Corporeal and incorporeal; and
iii. Movables and immovable.

b. Common (449)- things
i. Not owned by anyone that may be
ii. Freely used by everyone conformably with the use
iii. For which nature has intended them.
1. Examples
a. Air
b. High Seas

c. Public (450)- things
i. Owned by the state or its political subdivisions
ii. In capacity as public persons.
1. Examples
a. The waters and bottoms of natural navigable waters bodies
b. Territorial sea
c. Seashore
d. Streets
e. Public Squares
2. Comments
a. Public persons- sovereign capacity
i. Governed by rules of public law
b. Private persons- private citizens or corporations
i. Governed by private law
c. Public property- property of the state and its political subdivisions
i. Public things- things that the state and its political subdivisions hold in a sovereign capacity
A. Things which according to constitutional and legislative provisions are inalienable and necessarily owned by the state or its political subdivisions
B. Things which, though alienable and thus susceptible of ownership by private persons, are applied to some public purpose and are held by the state or its political subdivisions in their capacity as public persons
ii. Private things

d. Private (453)- things
i. Owned by individuals
ii. Other private persons and
iii. State or its political subdivisions in capacity as private persons
1. Examples
a. Markets
b. School offices
c. Fire department
d. Offices

e. Freedom of disposition by private persons (454)- owners of private things may freely dispose of them under modifications established by law.

f. Private things subject to public use (455)- private things
i. May be subject to public use
ii. In accordance with law or by dedication

g. Roads; public or private (457)- a road
i. May be either public or private
ii. Public road is one that is subject to public use
iii. Public may own the land on which the road is built OR
iv. Have the right to use it
v. Private road is not subject to public use.
h. Notes
i. Things = property
ii. Public squares = public parks
iii. Disposition = giving up property
iv. Air = air you breath
v. Territorial sea = Gulf of Mexico
vi. The state can exist both private and public
vii. Individual can only be private
viii. Political subdivisions = parish, city, village, hamlet
ix. Dedication = if a piece of property is going to be transferred from party to party, there can be a stipulation or restriction as to the lands use
i. Cases
i. Landry v. Council of East Baton Rouge
1. Civil suit to stop council from halting use of land as an airport.
a. Issue
Whether property acquired by a governmental agency and used for many years for a designated purpose may be put to other used by formal action on the party of the agency involved?
b. Rule
A governing authority may change the use of public property that falls within the classification of private domain if there are no restrictions in the deed and if the property is not being converted to private use; at its sole discretion.
II. Navigability
a. Types of navigability
i. Navigable in fact- can be used as nature intended; body of water can accommodate commerce
ii. Navigable in law- if navigable in 1812 when state was admitted to Union
b. Notes
i. Riparian- land near body of water
ii. If when purchased, it was non-navigable individual owns it, but by course of nature it becomes navigable, state takes control
iii. Riparian land owner can lose land, state can’t
c. Cases
i. State v. Two O’clock Bayou Land Company
1. Suit to enjoin the land company from maintaining a cable across Two O’clock Bayou.
a. Issue
Whether the bayou is navigable, entitling the parish and the state to stop its obstruction by privately owned barriers.
b. Rule
A stream must be usable for commerce in its natural state to be considered navigable. If it is navigable, it is considered a public thing and its water and banks are subject to public use.

d. Seashore and the Sea
i. Seashore (451)- the space of land over which the waters of the sea spread in the highest tide during the winter season
1. Comments
a. Seashore-
i. Space of land in
ii. Open coast that is
iii. Directly over flown by the tides
b. Thus, not all lands subject to tidal overflow are “seashores”
ii. Notes
1. Winter- when the low/high tides are prevalent
2. Water is lower in the winter than summer, less land covered by water
3. If land is attached by accretion, adjacent to a non-navigable body of water riparian own it, otherwise it’s the states
iii. Cases
1. Buras v. Salinovich
a. Suit to stop hunting on private land, reconventional demand for judgment in defendant’s favor and monetary damages.
i. Issue
Whether the plaintiff’s land which was subject to overflow from the gulf tides was seashore, and not subject to private ownership.
ii. Rule
The state may not deprive a landowner of the right to use his land as he sees fits for the benefit of others
e. Navigable Rivers
i. Banks of navigable rivers or streams (456)- the banks of navigable rivers or streams are
1. Private things that are
2. Subject to public use. The bank of a navigable river or stream is the
3. Land between ordinary low and ordinary high stage of the water
4. When there is a levee in proximity to the water established according to law, the levee shall form the bank
a. Comments
i. The servitude of public use under this provision is not “for use of the public at large for all purposes” but merely for purposes that are “incidental to the navigable character of the stream and its enjoyment as an avenue of commerce.
ii. Bank of a river- the land lying between the edge of the water at its ordinary low stage and the line which the edge of the water reaches at its ordinary high stage, that is the highest stage – is called bank of the stream and belongs to the owner of the adjacent land”. Conversely, the bed of the river is the “land that is covered by the water in its ordinary low stage.
iii. Nevertheless on the borders of the Mississippi and other navigable streams, where there are levees, establishe

with servitude of public use, and a riparian owner may construct any manner of works on its land provided it does not obstruct the public use.
3. Warner v. Clarke
a. Suit to enjoin the district attorney and the sheriff of East Carroll Parish from prosecuting the plaintiffs for trespass and to decree that the lands are subject to a servitude in favor of the public and an injunction against the arrest and prosecution of the plaintiffs
i. Issue
Does the riparian servitude in favor of the public affecting the banks of navigable streams, give the public right to freely enter upon riparian lands, particularly the lands here for the purpose of hunting and fishing thereon when: entering by navigable streams or lakes, or entering otherwise.
ii. Rule
The riparian servitudes are not subject to a broad and liberal construction, as contended but exist only for that which is incident to the nature and navigable character of the stream washing the land of such proprietor.
f. Lakes
i. Shore of the sea or of a lake (500)- there is no right to alluvion or dereliction on the shore of the sea or of lakes
ii. Notes
1. No rights to alluvion or dereliction on the shore of the sea or lake
2. Land around lake is owned by state in public/private capacity
3. Alluvion = land build up
4. Dereliction = receding of water, exposing more land
5. Doesn’t matter if lake is navigable or not
6. Riparian owner will not get the land from the build up
7. State owns up to the high water mark of lakes
8. State owns up to the low water mark of streams
9. State owns land submerged by water
10. Lake Pontratrain is the only lake in the state classified as an arm of the sea
11. Brackish- mixture of salt water and freshwater
12. Lake Pontratrain is a combination of salt and fresh water
iii. 2 theories of subsidence
1. Gradual build up of soil
2. Erosion- act of wind/water submerging the banks
iv. La.R.S. 9: 1151- Change in ownership of land or water bottoms as result of action of navigable streams, bay or lake; mineral leases
1. Though the state owns the bottom of lakes, if there is a mineral lease that ownership is not effected
v. Multiply factors test for lakes – used to classify a body as a lake or a stream
1. Size of the body of water
2. Width of the body of water
3. Depth f the body of water
4. Channels
5. Currents
6. Historical documents/ maps
7. Banks
vi. Cases
1. State v. Placid Oil Company
a. Issue
Was Grand Lake, Six Mile Lake a stream or lake?
b. Rule
There are distinct tests that may be applied