Rundle v. Delaware & Raritan Canal Company
55 U.S. 80 (1852)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rundle v. Delaware & Raritan Canal Company, 55 U.S. 14 How. 80 80 (1852)

Rundle v. Delaware & Raritan Canal Company

55 U.S. (14 How.) 80

Syllabus

By the law of Pennsylvania, the River Delaware is a public navigable river, held by its joint sovereigns in trust for the public.

Riparian owners in that state have no title to the river or any right to divert its waters unless by license from the states.

Such license is revocable, and in subjection to the superior right of the state to divert the water for public improvements, either by the state directly or by a corporation created for that purpose.

The proviso to the provincial acts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, of 1771 does not operate as a grant of the usufruct of the waters of the river to Adam Hoops and his assigns, but only as a license, or toleration of his dam.

As, by the laws of his own state, the plaintiff could have no remedy against a corporation authorized to take the whole waters of the river for the purpose of canals, or improving the navigation, so neither can he sustain a suit against a corporation created by New Jersey for the same purpose, who have taken part of the waters.

The plaintiffs, being but tenants at sufferance in the usufruct of the water to the two states who own the river as tenants in common, are not in a condition to question the relative rights of either to use its waters without consent of the other.

This case is not intended to decide whether a first licensee for private emolument can support an action against a later licensee of either sovereign or both, who, for private purposes, diverts the water to the injury of the first.

The facts in the case are set forth in the opinion of the Court.

Page 55 U. S. 87

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