Browns (Dominant Estate)
Voss (Servient Estate)
There are three parcels of land: A, B, and C.
is the servient estate.
is the dominant estate.
The predessors in title of parcel A granted to the predecessor
of parcel B a private road easement across A for ingress to
and egress from parcel B.
The Plaintiffs own B.
The Defendants own A.
The Plaintiffs bought C for the purposes to build a single
family residence that straddles both B and C.
The Pl began clearing land in November 1977.
The Df sought to bar the Pl - in April of 1979, some 17 months
later after the Pl spent $11,000.
Defendants placed logs, a concrete sump and a chain link fence
within the easement.
Plaintiffs sued for removal of the obstructions, an injunction
against defendant's interference with their use of the easement
Df - Counterclaimed
Defendants counterclaimed for damages and an injunction against
plaintiffs using the easement other than for parcel B.
See Procedural History
Easement In This Case
The easement in this case was created by express grant.
Determining the Terms
The extent of the right acquired is to be determined from the
terms of the grant properly construed to give effect to the
intention of the parties.
Both Parties Agree that
Both plaintiffs and defendants agree that the 1952 grant created
an easement appurtenant to parcel B as the dominant estate.
Thus, plaintiffs, as owners of the dominant estate, acquired
rights in the use of the easement for ingress to and egress from
Fee Party Issue/Argument
The Pl have no such easement rights in connection with their
ownership of parcel C, which was not part of the original
dominant estate in the 1952 grant.
Easement Appurtenant Rule
As a general rule, an easement appurtenant to one parcel of land
may not be extended by the
owner of the dominant estate to other parcels owned by him,
whether adjoining or distinct tracts, to which the easement is
Easement Party Issue/Argument
Plaintiffs contend that extension of the use of the easement for
the benefit of nondominant property does not constitute a misuse
of the easement.
There is no evidence of an increase in the burden on the
We do not agree
Appurtenant Extension Misuse Rule
If an easement is appurtenant to a particular parcel of land,
any extension thereof to other parcels is a misuse of the
"[I]n this context this classic rule of property law is directed
to the rights of the
respective parties rather than the
actual burden on the servitude."
Courts Misuse Reasoning
Under the express language of the 1952 grant, plaintiffs only
have rights in the use of the easement for the benefit of parcel
Although, as plaintiffs contend, their planned use of the
easement to gain access to a single family residence located
partially on parcel B and partially on parcel C is perhaps no
more than technical misuse of the easement, we conclude that it
is misuse nonetheless.
Courts Df not entitled to injunctive relief
Fundament Principles for an Injunction
The proceeding is equitable
and addressed to the sound
discretion of the trial court.
The trial court is vested with a
broad discretionary power to shape and fashion
injunctive relief to fit the
particular facts, circumstances, and equities of the
case before it.
Appellate courts give great weight
to the trial court's exercise of that discretion.
One of the essential
criteria for injunctive relief is
actual and substantial injury sustained
by the person seeking the injunction
Pl - obstruction to the easement.
Df - Technical, but not actual and substantial misuse.
Supreme Court Agreed withTrial Courts Findings
That plaintiffs have acted reasonably in the development of
There is and was no damage to the defendants from plaintiffs'
use of the easement
There was no increase in the volume of travel on the easement,
There was no increase in the burden on the servient estate,
The defendants sat by for more than a year while plaintiffs
expended more than $ 11,000 on their project
The defendants' counterclaim was an effort to gain "leverage"
against plaintiffs' claim.
The court found from the evidence that plaintiffs would suffer
considerable hardship if the injunction were granted whereas no
appreciable hardship or damages would flow to defendants from
The court limited plaintiffs' use of the combined parcels solely
to the same purpose for which the original parcel was used --
i.e., for a single family residence.
Trial court acted within its discretion.
As conceded by the majority, any extension of the use of an
easement to benefit a nondominant estate constitutes a misuse of
Misuse of an easement is a trespass.
The Browns' use of the easement to benefit parcel C, especially
if they build their home as planned, would involve a
continuing trespass for
which damages would be difficult to measure.
Injunctive relief is the appropriate remedy under these
If the Browns desire access to their landlocked parcel they have
the benefit of the statutory procedure for condemnation of a
private way of necessity.