To extinguish an easement by adverse possession, the possessor must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, an exclusive, actual, hostile, open, and continuous possession for the statutory fifteen year period. Adverse possession must be "inconsistent with continuance of the easement."
Property owners filed suit seeking declaration that an easement across adjacent owner's property was valid and also seeking an order directing adjacent owners to permanently cease from interfering with property owners' use of the easement. The trial court found that property owners' rights as to the easement had been extinguished by abandonment and adverse possession by prior owners of the property. Adjacent owner's had erected permanent improvements to their property which blocked the easement. On appeal, property owners argued that the trial court erred in its conclusions.
Did the easement extinguish?
The court found that the easement had been extinguished by long periods of nonuse, as well as the prior property owners' failure to object to defendants erection of the permanent improvements to their property. The court also found that the easement had been extinguished through adverse possession.