Holbrook bought some land in
and soon after gave permission for a road to be built to get to a coal
Holbrook received royalties
from the mine company during this time.
After the mine closed,
Holbrook built a rental house on his property and both he and the renter
used the road for a few years, but after a while it fell into disuse.
Years later, Taylor bought
some land next door to Holbrook and built a house. Holbrooke didn't seem
to mind Taylor using the road for a while, but eventually blocked access.
Taylor used the road anyway. Holbrook sued.
Taylor claimed this was an
extortion attempt to force Taylor to purchase the land from Holbrook.
The Trial Court found for
Taylor. Holbrook appealed.
The Trial Court found that
the use of the road had not been adverse, continuous, or uninterrupted. Therefore, an easement had not been established.
However, the Court found
that the use of a roadway over the lands of another may be established by
This is known as an implied
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Court found that, since
Taylor had taken actions in reliance of being able to use the road (aka
constructing the house), and Holbrook had not objected to the use of the
road during construction of the house, that effectively gave Taylor an
unrevokable license (aka an easement)
to continue to use the road.
The reliance doesn't have
to be money spent on the easement,
it can be any investment (like building a house) when the value of that
investment is dependent on retaining the easement.
Basically, this case said that
if you allow someone to use your land, they might gain a legal right to
your land that you never intended to give them.
Normally, in order to get an
easement, you have to negotiate a
deal with the owner of the land you want the easement on (which usually involves paying money).
However, when you get an implied easement, like in this case, you don't have to pay any
royalties. Is that fair?
Note that this rule about implied
easement by estoppel is not followed
in many States. It's relatively controversial.