Darling v. City of Newport News, 249 U.S. 540 (1919)
U.S. Supreme CourtDarling v. City of Newport News, 249 U.S. 540 (1919)
Darling v. City of Newport News
Argued April 15, 1919
Decided April 28, 1919
249 U.S. 540
Generally speaking, private rights in land under tidal waters are subject to the right of the state to use such waters as a depository for sewage. P. 249 U. S. 542.
Plaintiff held oyster beds in the tidal waters of Hampton Roads by leases from the Virginia, under whose laws, as long as he paid rent, he was declared to have the "exclusive right to occupy" the land for twenty years, subject to any rights of other persons previously acquired, with the state's guaranty of an "absolute right" to continue to use and occupy it for that period.
Held that the grant, construed strictly, with reference to the public necessity in that vicinity and previous pollution of the water, was subject to the right of the state to authorize the City of Newport News to discharge its sewage into the Roads, and that the consequent pollution of the plaintiff's oysters was neither (1) a taking of his property without due process, nor (2) an impairment of his contract rights, nor (3) (following the state court) a damage in the sense of the Virginia Constitution, which requires compensation for property taken or damaged for public use. P. 249 U. S. 543.
123 Va. 14 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.