The Murphy family and Dan B’s have prevailed in a long-running dispute over beach property the state took for a marina in Bay St. Louis.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a jury’s conclusion was correct: The Murphys should receive $644,000 because the state took their property. With legal fees, court costs, and interest, the Secretary of State’s Office owes the Murphys about $1.2 million.
The Supreme Court concluded the Murphys owned the property because it was a natural beach the state had never maintained or renourished.
The ruling could have repercussions in ongoing disputes with several other property owners who claim the state wrongly took their land for the Bay St. Louis Marina at the foot of Old Town.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who holds tidelands in trust for the public, has 14 days to appeal the ruling. Hosemann’s office said he was unable to comment on the decision Thursday because he was traveling and had not had time to review it.
The state has 14 days to request a rehearing, said attorney Robert Quimby of Hernando, who represents the Murphys.
“It’s not as if they’re going to cut checks tomorrow,” Quimby said. “They’ve fought this case pretty hard. The appeal is not technically over yet.”
The Murphys operated Dan B’s on the waterfront, a popular restaurant and bar with a strip of beach on the Bay of St. Louis. Katrina destroyed Dan B’s and other businesses perched over the bay.
After the storm, the Army Corps of Engineers built a new seawall. The Secretary of State’s Office took control of 44 acres east of the seawall as public trust tidelands. The state leased the land, including a portion of the Murphys’ former property, to the city for its marina.
The Murphys are rebuilding Dan B. Murphy’s Restaurant & Bar on the beach west of the seawall.