Way back in 1904, Bailey split
her property into three parts and sold 1/3 to Jones, Murphy, and Gray
each. A sewer line crossed all three properties in order to get to the
main sewer line in the street.
Jones was nearest to the
main line, so Murphy and Gray's sewage had to cross under Van Sandt's
Jones sold to Van Sandt, and
Murphy sold to Royster.
Thirty-two years later, the
sewer line backed up and flooded Van Sandt's property. He sued to stop
Royster and Gray from using the sewer line.
Royster and Gray argued that
there must be an easement for them
to use the sewer, so they were not liable for trespass.
Van Sandt argued there was
no evidence of an easement
allowing Royster and Gray to use the sewer line.
Van Sandt argued that there
could only be an implied easement
if it was apparent, and he had no idea that the sewer line was under his
The Trial Court found for
Royster and Gray. Van Sandt appealed.
The Trial Court found that
the sewer was an appurtenance to
Appurtenance is a legal term for what belongs to and goes
with something else.
The Court found that the easement was created by implied reservation on the
severance of the servient
from the dominant estate.
The servient estate is the land that has the easement placed on
The dominant estate is the land that is served by the easement.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court found
Jones and Bailey knew about
the sewer when the property was split up.
Van Sandt should have known
that his sewage must be draining somewhere.
Just because something
isn't visible, that doesn't mean it isn't "apparent."
The Court found that an easement can be implied on the basis of necessity
When the sewer was first
constructed, all the land belonged to Bailey, and you can't have an
easement on your own land. However, when you use part of your land to
benefit another part, that is called a quasi-easement.
The part receiving the
benefit is the quasi-dominant tenement. And the part that is being utilized is the quasi-servient
Following the English case
of Pyer v. Carter, when a quasi-servient
tenement is transferred to a new owner, there is an implied
reservation of an easement.
On the other hand, other
cases (see Wheeldon v. Burrows
for example) have said just the opposite; that if you want there to be
an easement then it has to be expressly stated.
Basically, there are two basic
situations in which one can get an implied easement.
First, an easement is implied when there is a single tract of
land and the tract is divided, and there is continuous or apparent use of
Known as an easement by
The assumption is, that
when the property was divided and sold, the buyers and sellers factored
the price of the easement into the purchase price of the land.
An easement by prior use runs with the land and does not expire.
Second, an easement is
implied when the dominant
estate requires the easement for 'enjoyment' of the land, and the necessity
arose when the dominant parcel is severed from the servient parcel.
Known as an easement by
Only exists as long as the
necessity exists. For example, if a new sewer line was built, and
Royster didn't need Van Sandt anymore, the easement would become void.
In this case, the original
owner, Bailey sold off what became the servient estates while she kept the dominant estate. Does that make a difference?
Turns out you can sell off
your property while reserving an easement on the property you sell off.
This is known as a right by reservation.
The Courts have held the
standard requirement to be an absolute necessity for the easement, as opposed to a reasonable necessity, which
is what you'd need if the seller was selling the dominant
estate and keeping the servient