An easement may be created by express written grant, by implication, by prescription, or by estoppel. An easement, such as a right of way, is created when the owner of a tenement to which the right is claimed to be appurtenant, or those under whom he claims title, have openly, peaceably, continuously, and under a claim of right adverse to the owner of the soil, and with his knowledge and acquiescence, used a way over the lands of another for as much as 15 years.
Spouses Ben and Edna Taylor (Taylors) built a residence on property adjoining the property owned by spouses J.S. and Lula Holbrook (Holbrooks). With the permission of the Holbrooks, the Taylors used and maintained an access road owned by the former during the period of home construction. After the construction, the Taylors continued to use the roadway to access the public highway. Due to a misunderstanding between the two households on the issue of liability in case of any damage that might happen to anyone on the subject road, the Holbrooks erected a steel cable across the roadway to prevent its use and also constructed "no trespassing" signs. Shortly thereafter, a suit was filed by the Taylors to require the removal of the obstruction and to declare their right to the use of the roadway without interference, claiming an easement of prescription and estoppel. The trial court determined that a right to the use of the roadway by prescription had not been established, but that it had been established by estoppel. Subsequently, the Holbrooks appealed.
Was the right to the use of the roadway without interference established by estoppel?
The Court held that the evidence justified the finding of the trial court that the right to the use of the roadway had been established by estoppel. The use of the roadway by the Taylors across the Holbrooks' land to get to their home from the public highway, the use of the roadway for the construction of the residence, the general improvement of the premises, and the maintenance of the roadway, all with the actual consent of the the Holbrooks, or at least with their tacit approval, clearly established that the license to use the subject roadway could not have been revoked.