Mueller v. Hoblyn Case Brief

Summary of Mueller v. Hoblyn, S. Ct. WY [1994]

Relevant Facts: The original property’s western portion had access to Yellowstone Rd. Englemans conveyed to REB an Eastern portion w/ access and E. The deed did not fully describe the location of the E. The Englemans conveyed the remaining portion to Muellers SUBJECT to E of Record. REB sold a parcel to Refiors, who conveyed to Coffee. REB sold another parcel to Johnson who conveyed to Hoblyns. All conveyances referenced the right to use. B/c of the difficulty in using one access the parties used another access. Coffee had a survey and determined the road and the E were not the same. When Mueller’s permission was requested he denied.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the E was terminated by subdivision; the E was abandoned even though owners of dominant estate had been using a different route for access due to the mistaken belief as to the location of the easement; the Planting of crops, fencing, and drilling of well on the actual easement was inconsistent with the purpose of the easement where the owners of the dominant estates were using different means of access; the Period of adverse possession didn’t begin to run until owners of dominant estate demanded that actual easement be opened.Court’s Holding: 1-No; 2- No; 3-No; 4-Yes

Procedure: Trial Ct Bench in favor of Df; Multiple appeals; Affirmed in part, Reversed in part.

Law or Rule(s): To extinguish an easement over or use of the servient estate, the SE owner must demonstrate a visible, notorious, and continuous adverse and hostile use of said land which is inconsistent w/ the use made and rights held by the E holder, not merely possession which is inconsistent w/ another’s claim of title.

Court Rationale: The original conveyance provided for unlimited ingress/egress. A subdivision did not create an additional burden on the E since the use remained the same. The E was not terminated when REB subdivided its parcel of land. There is no evidence of intentional relinquishment by Coffee or Hoblyn of their rights to use the E. Abandonment requires more than simple nonuse of an E, and is a question of intent to abandon. Although Detrimental Reliance on the action of the DE owners may terminate an E, Df failed to make any showing of conduct that he reasonably relied upon to his detriment. No portion of the right to use the E has been terminated by adverse possession, termination by AP is not favored by the cts. Df’s actions in maintaining boundary fencing, growing various crops and drilling a water well did not terminate any portion of the E by AP. Df’s agricultural use was not inconsistent with the rights held by the owners of the DE. Df’s fencing and capped water well were not adverse to the continued existence of this previously unused E. The period of AP began in 1990 when Pls demanded the E be opened and Df refused. At that point the Pls were first put on notice.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Pl’s rights to use the E could not be terminated until they made demand upon Mueller to use the land, the right to use the E for a private road had not been terminated by operation of law.

Defendant’s Argument: The rights of the owners of the DE to use only a portion of the E had been terminated by adverse possession and the entire E has been extinguished.

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