June 2, 2015

The Supreme Court, Suffolk County has upheld the right of the owners of approximately 4,000 feet of oceanfront beach in Amagansett to proceed to trial in a long-running dispute against the East Hampton Town Trustees and the Town, in Seaview at Amagansett v. Trustees, Index No. 09-34714. The plaintiff owners allege in the action that the Napeague beach area in question was deeded into private ownership in an 1882 deed from the Trustees to Arthur Benson. In recent years, the area has become congested with seasonal usage of the beach that can include over 200 trucks parked directly on the beach, along with tents, picnics, bathers, children and pets, all without the benefit of bathroom facilities and lifeguards. The plaintiffs’ action seeks to quiet title to the beach and enjoin the unsafe nuisance. The Trustees and Town attempted to avoid a trial by obtaining a “summary judgment” against the plaintiffs, but the Hon. Jerry Garguilo of the Supreme Court rejected the motion, paving the way for a trial. In the decision, Justice Garguilo concluded that the plaintiffs proved that they “hold unbroken chains of title starting from the Benson Deed to the subject beach area, that is, to the high water mark or line of the Atlantic Ocean.” Additionally, although the beach is burdened by an easement relating to fishing activities, Justice Garguilo agreed with plaintiffs that the easement “may not be enlarged to include uses completely foreign to the grant, such as recreational purposes, including picknicking, sunbathing, boating and bathing.”