It is true that where the nature and extent of the use of an easement is, by its terms, unrestricted, the use by the dominant tenement may be increased or enlarged. But the owner of the dominant tenement may not subject the servient tenement to use or servitude in connection with other premises to which the easement is not appurtenant. And when an easement is being used in such a manner, an injunction will be issued to prevent such use.
The dominant tenement owner acquired property, which enjoyed an easement over the servient tenement owner's adjoining property. The servient tenement owner argued that the dominant tenement owner forfeited its easement by exceeding the rights associated with the easement. Specifically, the servient tenement owner argued that the dominant tenement owner exceeded the scope of the easement when it used the easement to service adjoining land that was not covered by the easement. The dominant tenement owner sought action to enjoin the servient tenement owner from maintaining a structure which blocked an easement over the servient tenement owner's property. The district court granted the servient tenement owner summary judgment. The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.
Was the dominant tenement forfeit its easement?
The Court found in favor of the dominant tenement, noting that the creation of an additional burden upon the servient tenement owner's property did not constitute forfeiture of the easement, provided that it was possible to server the increased burden. The court also rejected the servient tenement owner's argument that the easement was forfeited by the dominant tenement owner's misuse of the easement by parking cars over the easement. While such misuse could be enjoined, it was not evidence of forfeiture. The court concluded that fact questions as to the reasonableness of the enjoyment of the easement, and whether it was possible to sever the burden created by the enlarged use of the easement precluded summary disposition. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.