Simmons v. Berkeley Elec. Coop., Inc.

404 S.C. 172, 744 S.E.2d 580 (Ct. App. 2013)

 

RULE:

A prescriptive easement is not implied by law but is established by the conduct of the dominant tenement owner. To establish a prescriptive easement, the party asserting the right must show: (1) continued and uninterrupted use of the right for 20 years; (2) the identity of the thing enjoyed; and (3) use which is either adverse or under a claim of right. To establish an easement by prescription, one need only establish either a justifiable claim of right or adverse and hostile use. The party claiming a prescriptive easement bears the burden of proving all of the elements.

FACTS:

The previous owners of appellant’s property granted easements to respondent utility company for the construction and maintenance of electric transmission lines. Appellant claimed that the power lines unreasonably affected his ability to sell or use his property. Appellant sought a declaratory judgment that respondent had no property rights with respect to his land. A master-in-equity granted respondent summary judgment. On appeal, the court affirmed the master-in-equity’s order.

ISSUE:

Did the evidence establish that respondent utility company had an express easement over appellant’s property or that it had acquired a prescriptive easement for power lines on the land?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Respondent utility company was properly granted summary judgment, as the evidence established that it had an express easement over the property. Respondent had acquired a prescriptive easement for power lines on appellant's land that had been in their current configuration for over 20 years. The lines and poles were open and obvious and were made under a claim of right via the easements granted by previous owners.

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