East Hampton and the town trustees have lost their appeal of a State Supreme Court decision against granting summary judgment in two Truck Beach lawsuits. Basically, the town and trustees wanted the judge in the case to issue the judgment against the plaintiffs without a full trial. State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo ruled against summary judgment in June, and the town and trustees appealed. He urged the two sides to settle then. Quoted in the Southampton Press, Justice Ralph Gazillo said, "I think that we can all agree that this litigation could go on ad infinitum...this will not end with this trial. Abe Lincoln said, at all costs, avoid litigation. This is going to get costly."
Well, it’s been lengthy and costly already! The lawsuit was filed in 2009. The dispute is between Amagansett/Napeague homeowners, along with motel owners, who claim to own the beach in front of their houses and East Hampton Town and Trustees.
The judgment says that the town and trustees did not prove that the plaintiffs do not hold title to the disputed areas of the beach. And that they "failed to establish, prima facie, that they are legally permitted to allow individuals to use the disputed area by virtue of a certain reservation clause contained in one of the deeds allegedly comprising the plaintiffs' chain of title."
So the trial will depend (we think—if any lawyers out there want to correct us, please do) on whether or not the titles held by the plaintiffs, with the reservation clause about owning the area "landward of the mean high-water mark" of the ocean, are valid.