Wetmore v. Ladies of Loretto

220 N.E.2d 491



The essential elements of an easement by implication are: (1) The existence of a single tract of land so arranged that one portion of it derives a benefit from the other, the division thereof by a single owner into two or more parcels, and the separation of title; (2) before the separation occurs, the use must have been long, continued, obvious or manifest, to a degree which shows permanency; and (3) the use of the claimed easement must be essential to the beneficial enjoyment of the parcel to be benefitted.


The plaintiff owned a tract of land, whose principal access was by means of a lane extending north from the east side of the land. In 1946, the plaintiff sold 10 acres of this tract to the defendant, who constructed a mansion, a swimming pool, a sunken garden, and various other buildings on the parcel. Because the defendant’s parcel of land was landlocked, the plaintiff granted the defendant an express easement across the east side of the tract out to the lane. In 1957, the defendant purchased another 40-acre tract from the plaintiff and created another roadway extending west of the parcel out to Orchard Road. Soon after, the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant began to deteriorate, as the plaintiff became frustrated by the amount of traffic the roadways created near the plaintiff’s property. In 1962, the defendant constructed the House of Studies, which was a structure built on a portion of the 10-acre tract as well as the 40-acre tract. The plaintiff then sued to enjoin the defendant’s use of the roadway out to the lane arguing that the defendant had impermissibly extended the easement to benefit the 40-acre tract of land, when it had been granted for the benefit of the 10-acre landlocked parcel. The defendant argued that the sale of the 40-acre tract created an implied easement benefitting that tract over the original easement.


Will the court imply an easement if it is convenient to the use of the property, but not so highly convenient that closing it would seriously interfere with the beneficial enjoyment of the property?




The court held that because the defendant constructed the House of Studies on both parcels of land, it impermissibly extended the easement to the benefit of the 40-acre parcel, which constituted a misuse. The misuse here was too trivial to warrant an injunction of destruction of the easement, but the case was remanded to determine whether the defendant’s activities on both parcels could be separated so that the continued use of the roadway would only benefit the original 10-acre parcel.

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