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Raleigh Avenue Beach Assn. v. Atlantis Beach Club

    Brief Fact Summary. Tony Labrosciano was issued a summons for trespassing when he attempted to cross the Atlantis property to the Eastern side of Raleigh Avenue in order to take the most direct route back to his home.  Atlantis, a private beach club, seeks to enjoin Mr. Labrosciano and members of his class from “trespassing, entering onto and accessing” the Atlantis property. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Tony Labrosciano was issued a summons for trespassing when he attempted to cross the Atlantis property to the Eastern side of Raleigh Avenue in order to take the most direct route back to his home.  Atlantis, a private beach club, seeks to enjoin Mr. Labrosciano and members of his class from “trespassing, entering onto and accessing” the Atlantis property. 

    Facts. On June 22, 2002, Tony Labrosciano, was issued a summons for trespassing when he attempted to cross the Atlantis property to the Eastern side of Raleigh Avenue in order to take the most direct route back to his home.  Atlantis, a private beach club, seeks to enjoin Mr. Labrosciano and members of his class from “trespassing, entering onto and accessing” the Atlantis property, seeking to declare that the Atlantis is not required to provide the public with access to or use of any portion of its property or the adjacent ocean. 

    Issue. Whether the public has the right to use a 480-foot wide stretch of upland sand beach, both horizontal and vertical access, owned by Atlantis Beach Club, Inc. and operated as a private club.   Further, under what circumstances can Atlantis charge members of the public a fee for use and what is the standard to be used for determining the amount of the fee?

    Held. The public trust doctrine requires the Atlantis property be open to the general public at a reasonable fee (including incurred expenses for management services) for services provided by the owner and approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

    Discussion. The decision was based in part on the Matthews approach, which established the framework for application of the public trust doctrine to privately-owned upland sand beaches, and the general principle those upland sands, is “subject to an accommodation of the interests of the owner”.


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