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Fisher v. Walker

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-16-2011
Case #: A144458
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Riggs, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A144458.pdf

Property Law: To determine an easement’s purpose, the court looks to the wording of the document within the context of the document. An instrument creating an easement that does not convey title to the property, but only subjects it to the uses of the easement, is not a conveyable interest in land.

Defendant Walker owned the lot to the south of plaintiff Fisher's lot. The previous owner had executed an easement in favor of an adjoining parcel, lot 600, to use a dirt road across a 20-foot strip of land. The grantor of the easement reserved the right to use the road and title to the strip of land for the road remained with the grantor. In 1961 grantor conveyed the property to another party in a deed that did not mention the easement. Walker’s property was conveyed in 1965 “free from all encumbrances” and one more time before Walker purchased the property in 2007 “free of encumbrances.” In 1994 alternate access to Fisher’s lot was established, though the she continued to use the dirt road until Walker obstructed it in 2008. The Court of Appeals found that the wording of the easement, in the context of the document, was clear to benefit lot 600, and was appurtenant to lot 600 and no other property. The grantor of the easement merely retained the ability to use the land over which the easement ran as titleholder of the servient estate. A nonexclusive easement that does not interfere with the easement holder’s use does not create a property interest in other beneficial uses. An instrument creating an easement that does not convey title to the property, but only subjects it to the uses of the easement, is not a conveyable interest in land. Plaintiff also argued that an easement by implication arose but the court did not find sufficient facts plead. Affirmed.