Lucas & Company, LLC

In the January Edition of The Lucas Letter, we are studying the case of Rivers v. Lozeau, Florida Court of Appeals, 1989. This infamous case is the genesis for the “First Surveyor Concept” or simply “First Surveyor,” the case that singlehandedly created the concept that there is a third role for the land surveyor; that of ‘first surveyor.’ The surveyor’s role as ‘original surveyor’ and ‘retracing surveyor’ are firmly established in American property law. In contrast, the First Surveyor concept, has one court opinion to hang its hat on, Rivers v. Lozeau. The concept basically states that the ‘first surveyor’ to attempt to subdivide a section within the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), or any subdivision for that matter, where the subdivision lines have been protracted on a plan of subdivision and not actually run on the ground, will be honored as an ‘original surveyor’ only if proper procedure was followed, or, in some instances, if the first surveyor’s results are deemed ‘close enough.’ If not, then the first surveyor’s survey results are always open to collateral attack. Is this a legitimate concept based on the correct law or is it just another instance of surveyor mythology, where surveyors just believe what they are doing is right without any supporting legal bedrock? We explore that question in this program.