Property Keyed to French
Harris v. Brooks
Theo Mashburn (Plaintiff) and John Brooks (Defendant) both leased land that included the shore and lake bed of Horseshoe Lake. Defendant used his leased land to grow rice and would draw water from the lake to irrigate his crop since at least 1931. In the years preceding this case, he used roughly the same amount of water each year. Plaintiff knew of this when he leased a small site on the lake shore in March 1954. In April of that year, Plaintiff began operating a boating and fishing rental business on his leased land. In May, Defendant began pumping water from the lake to grow rice. In July, Plaintiff ceased operating his business because the water level had fallen too low for him to launch his boats and the fish had stopped biting. Defendant continued pumping water until August 20, when it was discovered that fish life in the lake was endangered by low water levels. On July 10, Plaintiff filed a complaint in chancery court to enjoin Defendant from pumping water from Horseshoe Lake. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant’s pumping had lowered the water level so much that the lake could no longer be used for fishing or recreational purposes. Defendant denied that his pumping had interfered with Plaintiff’s use of the lake and claimed that the water level was lower than normal because the previous several years had been unusually dry. After a hearing, the chancery court denied Plaintiff’s request for an injunction. Plaintiff then appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
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