Category: Owner Disputes

The Illinois Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes (The Chain) Public River Access and Private Land Owner Rights

The Illinois Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes (The Chain) Public River Access and Private Land Owner Rights

The Fox River begins in the State of Wisconsin and flows through the State of Illinois to the City of Ottawa where it then flows into the Illinois River.  In McHenry County and Lake County, Illinois, the Fox River connects to the Chain O’Lakes.  The Chain O’Lakes consists of ten main lakes known as Grass Lake, Lake Marie, Channel Lake, Lake Catherine, Bluff Lake, Petite Lake, Fox Lake, Nippersink Lake, Pistakee Lake, and Redhead Lake.  There are another five lakes connected by canals and channels.  These five lakes are Duck Lake, Long Lake, Spring Lake, Dunns Lake, and Brandenburg Lake.

The State of Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Code through the Department of Natural Resources publishes a list of waterways.  If a waterway is listed that means that it is open to the public and a private land owner who owns land adjoining the waterway does not have any authority to block or restrict any member of the public from using the water once the person is on the water.  A private land owner does not have the right to restrict anyone while that person is on the waters of the Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes.

The Illinois Administrative Code makes the entire Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes open to public use, including all of the below listed waters.  The Code provides as follows:  The following public bodies of water are opened to public use, the entire length and surface area including all lakes, rivers, backwaters, submerged lands, bayous, and sloughs open to the main channel or body of water at normal flows or stages, are open to the public including but not limited to the Fox River (entire Illinois River Basin), Fox Chain O’Lakes (McHenry and Lake Counties), Bluff Lake, Lake Catherine, Channel Lake, Fox Lake, Grass Lake, Lake Marie, Nippersink Lake, Dunns Lake, Pistakee Lake, Lake Jerilyn, Lac Louette, Redhead Lake, Petite Lake, Spring Lake, and all connecting channels.  17 ILL. ADM. CODE Section 3704 APPENDIX A Public Bodies of Water.

Part of the reason for making the Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes open to the public is to promote commerce.  Commerce is plentiful on the Fox River and the Chain O’Lakes.  The Chain O’Lakes is the home to hundreds of various “On the Water” types of businesses including marinas, boat sales, charter boat captains, fishing tournaments, boat races, resorts, campgrounds, fine dining restaurants, and bars.  One of the historical and most famous places is the bar known as Blarney Island.  Blarney Island is located in the middle of Grass Lake and is only accessible by boat.

Does the Federal Government have jurisdiction over the Fox River?  The answer would be yes because of the inter-state nature of the river.  The Fox River flows through two different states.  It would be up to the Federal Government whether they would exercise such jurisdiction and the extent of the involvement.

If you have questions regarding lake or river rights, local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy assistance in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit Andrew Szocka, P.C. or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

 

PERSONAL PROPERTY: YOUR OPTIONS IF IT’S STOLEN.

PERSONAL PROPERTY: YOUR OPTIONS IF IT’S STOLEN.

Everyone owns personal property.  Money, cars, electronics, furniture, animals, etc.  Nearly everything except your house and the land that it’s built upon qualifies as personal property.

Occasionally this personal property is stolen or withheld by another individual.  In this case, you should always advise the police.  But you also have options beyond charging the individual with a crime.  Civil remedies exist that can help you recover your property, and obtain damages for your lost property.

The first cause of action at your disposal is called “replevin.”  A replevin lawsuit merely asks the court to enter an order returning your personal property.  Replevin is a statutory remedy, meaning that it’s codified by the Illinois legislature.

Specifically, section 735 ILCS 5/19-101, et seq. of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure states when a replevin action is appropriate, the proper venue to maintain the action, and how to draft a replevin complaint.

Another remedy available to a victim of stolen personal property is a cause of action for “conversion.”  As opposed to replevin, conversion can result in the return of your personal property, plus any damages that you suffered while the property was gone, and/or if the property can no longer be returned.  The amount of damages are often established by the value of the personal property.

However, personal property with no market value does not necessarily limit your damages to $0.  Illinois courts base the amount of damages to which a plaintiff is entitled on the value of the personal property to the plaintiff.

For example, if your pet dog is stolen and then dies, your damages are not limited simply because the dog may have been old and did not retain substantial market value.  Your damages can be measured by the dog’s actual value to you.  The court would likely consider veterinary bills and other expenses applied to the dog over its life in order to determine the dog’s personal worth.

Finally, some personal property is exchanged pursuant to a contract.  The personal property may be loaned to an individual, but required to be returned after a specific period of time.  If your personal property is not returned, you likely have a cause of action for breach of contract.

A well written contract will provide for damages in your favor, along with attorneys’ fees and court costs that you incur while attempting to recollect your personal property.

If you believe someone has stolen and is unlawfully withholding your personal property, local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy assistance in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

 

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