The elements necessary to establish a prescriptive easement and adverse possession are essentially the same under Vermont law: an adverse use or possession which is open, notorious, hostile and continuous for a period of 15 years, and acquiescence in the use or possession by the person against whom the claim is asserted. The difference lies in the interest claimed. The term "prescription" applies to the acquisition of nonfee interests, while "adverse possession" indicates that the interest claimed is in fee.
A corporate landowner brought an action claiming a prescriptive easement over a portion of adjacent landowner's land. The trial court rejected the claim and, instead, entered judgment for the adjacent landowner's on its counterclaim for ejectment. It determined that the corporate landowner had failed to prove with sufficient particularity the width and length of the easement and any use of the area in question by the corporate landowner was made with the permission of the adjacent landowner. The corporate landowner appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Vermont.
Did corporate landowner's use of the property constitute prescriptive easement?
The court held that the corporate landowner had enough evidence to have proven the general outlines of the prescriptive easement with reasonable certainty and therefore it met its burden. The court also held that record supported a conclusion that the corporate landowner used the property in an open, notorious, continuous, and adverse manner for more than 15 years. Therefore, the corporate landowner's use of the property constituted a prescriptive easement.