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Mehdizadeh v. Mincer

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three

June 27, 1996, Decided

No. B081681.

Opinion

 [*1300]   [**286]  KITCHING, Acting P. J. 

INTRODUCTION

Real property law distinguishes between the different concepts of adverse possession and prescriptive easement. It [***2]  is more difficult to prove adverse possession, and with good reason; a claimant relying on adverse possession seeks fee title to disputed property. A prescriptive easement, by contrast, simply allows a claimant the restricted use of property owned by another.

This appeal involves a dispute between neighbors which followed their discovery that a fence built many years earlier was not located on the legal boundary between their properties. The claimant could not prove adverse possession because he did not pay taxes on the disputed property. The trial court nonetheless granted the claimant a prescriptive easement, but that easement was so broad that it denied the record title owners virtually all use of their property.

We hold that ] when a claimant cannot satisfy the requirements for adverse possession, the claimant may not receive a prescriptive easement which extends so far that it becomes the equivalent of a fee interest and dispossesses the record title owners of part of their property. We further hold that under the facts of this case, the claimant also failed to provide sufficient evidence to support a grant of title pursuant to the "agreed-boundary doctrine." We reverse the [***3]  judgment with directions that the trial court quiet title to the disputed property in the legal owners.

 [**287]  FACTS

Plaintiff and respondent Kamran Mehdizadeh (Mehdizadeh) filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and for damages against defendants and appellants Tom R. Mincer and Janet Mincer (Mincers). Mehdizadeh's complaint sought a prescriptive easement over a portion of the  [*1301]  Mincers' property, an injunction ordering the Mincers to remove a fence and to restore the property to its former condition, and damages. The Mincers cross-complained for declaratory relief and to quiet title. A trial by the court disclosed the following facts.

In 1967, Mr. Cruz owned real property at 16957 Encino Hills Drive and installed a six-foot-high chain link fence (fence No. 1) between his property and the adjacent lot at 16951 Encino Hills Drive.

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46 Cal. App. 4th 1296 *; 54 Cal. Rptr. 2d 284 **; 1996 Cal. App. LEXIS 627 ***; 96 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4860; 96 Daily Journal DAR 8043

KAMRAN MEHDIZADEH, Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Respondent, v. TOM R. MINCER et al., Defendants, Cross-complainants and Appellants.

Subsequent History:  [***1]  As Modified on Denial of Rehearing July 24, 1996, Reported at: 1996 Cal. App. LEXIS 703.

Prior History: Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Super. Ct. No. LC12277. Hon. Leon Kaplan, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment is reversed. The cause is remanded with directions to the trial court to vacate its judgment and to grant no easement and to award no damages in favor of Mehdizadeh, and to enter a new judgment in favor of the Mincers on their cross-complaint quieting title to 16957 Encino Hills Drive, according to the legal description of that parcel. Costs awarded to the Mincers.

CORE TERMS

fence, prescriptive easement, easement, agreed-boundary, disputed property, adverse possession, claimant, built, trial court, reservoir, installed, exclusive easement, chain link fence, no evidence, circumstances, ownership, damages, bought, taxes, deed

Real Property Law, Easements, Easement Creation, Easement by Prescription, Adverse Possession, General Overview, Limited Use Rights, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Encumbrances, Adjoining Landowners, Boundaries, Continuous & Discontinuous Easements, Elements of Adverse Claims, Interference With Easements, Public Easements