Law School Case Brief
Harber v. Jensen - 2004 WY 104, 97 P.3d 57
One claiming an irrevocable license must prove the licensor had knowledge of the licensee's improvements and acted in some way to induce the licensee's reliance on the permissive use to make such improvements. Additionally, the improvements themselves must have required the use of the licensor's property.
John and Mary Kay Jensen (Jensens) had used a road on the Loziers' property for many years with permission for ranching operations. The Jensens made certain improvements in reliance on continued permissive use of the road. A dispute later arose about the use of the road. The construction of an alternative route would have been very expensive. When the Loziers blocked access to the road, the Jensens filed a complaint, asserting that they had acquired an irrevocable license. The district court agreed with the Jensens and granted a permanent injunction against the Loziers preventing them from interfering with the Jensens’ use of the road. The Loziers appealed.
Did the adjacent landowners acquire an irrevocable license to use the road located on their neighbors' property?
The Court reversed the district court’s decision holding that there was no evidence that the Loziers ever knew the Jensens were making improvements in reliance on the permissive use of the road or that they took any action at all to induce such improvements. According to the Court, all of the prior Wyoming cases involving irrevocable licenses required some type of affirmative action by the owner, along with knowledge of the expenditure of money in reliance upon the license. In addition, the Court determined that Wyoming case law required a finding that the use of the property was necessary in order to function. In the case at bar, the evidence showed that the Jensens had another way to access their property. As such, their improvements could have been utilized without use of the Loziers' property.
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