O'Dell v. Stegall

226 W. Va. 590, 703 S.E.2d 561 (2010)



Generally a person claiming a prescriptive easement must show the following: adverse, open and notorious, continuous and uninterrupted use of another's land for the period of prescription.


This case concerned a private, 25-foot-wide gravel lane that bordered on the northern edges of both defendants' property and plaintiff's property. Defendants did not own the gravel lane, but it was their only access to a public highway. On appeal, defendants argued that plaintiff failed to prove he had a prescriptive easement to use the gravel lane to access his property. The instant court found that there was no evidence to support plaintiff’s claims.


Does the plaintiff have a legal right to use the gravel lane for ingress to and egress from the north side of his home?




A person claiming a prescriptive easement must prove each of the following elements: (1) the adverse use of another's land; (2) that the adverse use was continuous and uninterrupted for at least ten years; (3) that the adverse use was actually known to the owner of the land, or so open, notorious and visible that a reasonable owner of the land would have noticed the use; and (4) the reasonably identified starting point, ending point, line, and width of the land that was adversely used, and the manner or purpose for which the land was adversely used.

However, after careful consideration of the record and the arguments of the parties, the court finds that the plaintiff failed to establish a right to an easement by prescription to use the gravel lane, and failed to prove the necessary elements of the other causes of action. Thus, the court believes that the circuit court should have granted judgment to the defendants.

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