Indiana seeks to dismiss suit limiting Lake Michigan access

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The state of Indiana is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed by three lakefront property owners looking to limit public access to Lake Michigan beaches.

The lawsuit, filed in early December,¬†asks the federal court in Hammond to undo the Indiana Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 Gunderson v. State ruling that establishes that Lake Michigan’s shoreline is open to all, and adjacent property owners can’t exercise exclusive control of the beach between their homes and the water.

Within that area, individuals are entitled to use the beach for navigation, commerce, fishing, walking and other recreational purposes.

The Porter property owners say the ruling unlawfully takes away their private beaches without compensation, the Northwest Indiana Times reported. They want the federal court to prohibit the state from enforcing the ruling so they can control who can access the beach near their homes.

In his 18-page response to the lawsuit, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said the plaintiff’s request to undo the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling “is inappropriate and should be dismissed.”

Hill argues dismissal is warranted because a federal court cannot require enforcement of Indiana’s trespassing laws against people engaging in recreational activities on the disputed shore.

The plaintiffs have until March 4 to respond before Indiana Northern District Court Chief Judge Theresa Springmann rules on the state’s motion to dismiss.

For more on the lawsuit, see the Feb. 19 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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