Gurney's Inn
October 18, 2006

Jet Ski Suit Sunk, Appeal Favors Town


East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana ruled correctly in 2005 when she convicted John Lagana, the State Supreme Court Appellate Division recently decided In a decision rendered September 25, the court upheld the conviction for violating town code provisions relating to operating Jet Skis.

Lagana was given violations in May of 2000 for illegally operating a water scooter inside Hog Creek and again the following year for illegal operation within the boundaries of Three Mile Harbor. Lagana, of East Hampton and Nyack, NY, has been fighting the charges ever since.

The first charge was dismissed on a technicality in town court in 2001, then reinstated by a state appellate court. Lagana initially challenged the town's right to distinguish between a Jet Ski and other small craft. His attorney also argued that the town's Jet Ski ordinance had been improperly adopted.

The argument veered onto another course in 2003. Filing a motion to dismiss the case, Lagana's attorney invoked the Dongan Patent. Signed in 1686, the Dongan Patent conveys ownership of all town beachfront land to the high water mark, excluding Montauk, to the Town Trustees. Lagana's attorney argued Trustee authority under the Dongan Patent precluded the town board from enacting Jet Ski legislation.

The appellate court disagreed. The town "acted within the scope of its authority" in exercising its police power to protect the public safety, the court decision states.

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