BPE Attorney Alexander Munn Obtain Significant Victory for Client in Easement Trial

Keith B. DunnaganToday, we take time to congratulate Alexander Munn on recent successful defense of a client in an easement. A trying time for the parties, Mr. Munn skillfully guided the clients through the process and on behalf of the clients prevailed on all causes of action. A tremendous job.

As always, if you have any questions about your real estate, business, estate planning, or any other legal issue, please let us know by e-mailing me at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com.

Also, remember that we do legal presentations for business and community organizations. If your group would like to schedule a presentation related to estate planning, please contact me to setup a date and time.

BPE Attorney Alexander Munn Obtain Significant
Victory for Client in Easement Trial

By: BPE Law Group

BPE Law Group is pleased to announce that attorney Alexander Munn has obtained a defense verdict after a 4-day trial in Placer County for his clients in a case involving easements.

This was a dispute between adjoining property owners. Our clients own two parcels in rural Placer County – their home is located on Parcel 1, which sits on a hill overlooking Parcel 2 which is undeveloped. Each parcel is approximately 5 acres, and consists of meadows, mature trees, bushes and two creeks. Wildlife is plentiful. It was and is our clients “forever home” due to its location and serenity.

Adjacent Parcel 3 is undeveloped. It has two distinct possible building sites – the first readily accessible via an existing driveway; the second is located on the southern portion of the parcel, which can only be accessed by crossing a deep canal. The Plaintiff’s argued that the first building site was not feasible as it contained large rock outcroppings, no well, and soil that was incompatible for a septic system. As such, only the second site was suitable for a homesite. The problem? There was no bridge to cross the canal.

The three parcels in question used to be one large lot, then sub-divided. At various times after the division the southern portion of Parcel 3 was accessed via a culvert across the canal, which was located on our clients’ land. The owner of Parcel 3 sought a voluntary easement across Parcel 2 for this access. Our clients denied the request as such an easement would cause substantial harm to their land, create noise from construction traffic, and destroy the tranquility they enjoyed. The result of this refusal? A lawsuit against them seeking a Court Order granting the owners of Parcel 3 an easement across their land, and monetary damages of $150,000.

At trial Plaintiff’s argued 3 theories of recovery: 1) easement by implication; 2) easement by prescription; and 3) easement by necessity.

To prove an easement by implication, the plaintiff’s must show, amongst other elements, that the proposed easement across Parcel 2 was “reasonably necessary” for the use of Parcel 3. Critically, the plaintiff failed to introduce any expert testimony that construction across the canal on their own land was impossible. Absent this showing, the Court found for our clients.

An easement by prescription requires open, notorious and continuous use of the easement for a period of 5 years. Here, our clients, in the 6 years of their ownership, only saw 3 people cross their land to access Parcel 3. The plaintiffs introduced testimony that real estate agents and others continuously crossed their land to show the building site to prospective purchasers. The Court found for the clients – the use was too intermittent and sporadic to rise to the level of “open and notorious and continuous”.

Finally, an easement by necessity can be had only if there is a strict necessity to use the land of another. No easement will be implied if there is another possible means of access, even if such access is inconvenient, difficult or costly. Here, the Plaintiff failed to show that construction of a bridge across the canal was impossible. As such, the Court ruled in our clients’ favor.

It is important to remember that this litigation was costly. Expert witnesses were required to defend the case. Many depositions were taken. Hundreds of attorney hours were spent in the 18 months leading up to and including trial. Most critically, the litigation was stressful on the clients. Yet due to their steadfast belief in defending their property ownership, the Court found in their favor on all causes of action. A great victory for the clients – BPE was proud to play a part.

The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in business and real estate matters and have represented clients in hundreds of matters involving easements. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com or Alex at awmunn@bpelaw.com. Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.