Burcky v. Knowles

120 N.H. 244, 413 A.2d 585 (1980)

 

RULE:

A rule of construction favors appurtenant easements over easements in gross, and an easement is never presumed to be in gross or a mere personal right when it can be fairly construed to be appurtenant to some other estate.

FACTS:

Garland sold a parcel of land to Knowles’ predecessor by warranty deed, which incorporated a right-of-way easement. 20 years after, Garland conveyed an adjacent parcel of land to the same predecessor, which likewise extended a right-of-way easement, but stated that the easement was to take effect to grantor’s “heirs and assigns.” Plaintiffs, as successors to the remainder of Garland’s property, claimed that the failure of the grantors to include a reservation of an easement in the second deed resulted in the purchasers not being able to cross the grantees' land. They sought a petition for declaratory relief in order to settle the dispute.

ISSUE:

Were successors legally able to bar a predecessor's grantee's use of an easement across their property where the predecessor's deed stated that the easement was to take effect to grantor’s heirs and assigns?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court reversed the trial court's judgment that declared that the purchasers were not entitled to use the easement across the land owned by the grantees. The language in the original easement reserved to the grantors a right to use the easement across the grantees' land, which was an appurtenance that ran with the land and was not personal to the grantors.

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