Truck Beach Trespass Cases Nixed

East Hampton Town Police stopped off-roaders from driving on Truck Beach
East Hampton Town Police stopped off-roaders from driving on Truck Beach
Dan Rodgers

A judge dismissed trespassing charges October 18 against 14 fishermen who drove onto Truck Beach in an act of civil disobedience last year, but the legal saga has yet to reach a conclusion.

Southampton Town Justice Gary Weber, who took the case after East Hampton Town justices recused themselves, threw the charges out because oceanfront homeowners whose properties overlook the contested Napeague shore declined to file affidavits as complaints against the fishermen.

Daniel Rodgers, the attorney for the fishermen, has said homeowners feared that if the trespassing charges moved forward, the local court could rule that the fishermen maintain a right to drive onto the beach despite a years-long court case disputing access rights. An attorney for the homeowners could not be reached.

The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, denied in September 2021 the town’s motion to hear an appeal of a lawsuit the town lost when an earlier appeals ruling found the public is not allowed to drive on and fish from the beach in front of the oceanfront property owners’ homes.

Last summer, a Suffolk County court judge fined the Town of East Hampton and the East Hampton Town Trustees $239,000 after ruling that the entities were in criminal contempt of court in the Truck Beach case. The town is appealing that ruling.

And in addition to the civil disobedience, the fishermen have also filed a class action lawsuit against the homeowners. That case is pending.

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