Court holds neighbor can erect fence along property line over small, shared artificial pond
The Persells and Mr. Wertz were friendly neighbors at one time. Mr. Wertz decided to create a small pond in his backyard by excavating down to a spring. The Percells decided to join him and allow part of their property to form 1/4 of the pond. Unfortunately, they apparently couldn't agree on how to use and tend the pond, which was less than 5 acres in size, and ultimately Wertz erected a wire fence along his property line. The Persells sued alleging several complaints and seeking documentation of thier right to use the entire surface of the pond. They secured a verdict in the lower court that totaled $42,000.00 and Weitz appealed.
The Court of Appeals overturned several aspects of the verdict. First, in examining prior Michigan law, it determined that the Persells acquired no "riparian" rights to use the pond. Under prior case law, these rights do not apply to small, artificial bodies of water and pre-existing, submerged property lines continue to establish boundaries. The Court further found that the treble-damage statute did not apply to the negligent application of herbicide to another's property: it applies only to activities that amount to a "taking" or "harvesting" of flora--not to a trespass that damages the plant growth.