Van Sandt v. Royster Case Brief

Summary of Van Sandt v. Royster, Supreme Ct. of KS (1938)

Parties: PL and DF were adjoining landowners; PL owned land closest to main sewer; DF’s owned homes next door along the connection as well.

Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is an equitable action for injunction (enjoin DF’s).

Procedural History: Trial court rendered verdict for DF. On appeal in this court, judgment is affirmed.

Facts: PL bought a tract of land which was closest to the main sewer, and had an underground connecting drain. Adjoining tract of land sold through mesne conveyances to DF, and a third tract, adjoining the second tract was sold. All shared the connection. PL’s home was flooded one day with sewage, and he discovered the sewage line which caused the problem ran underneath all three homes. Thus, this suit for injunction against 2 adjoining landowners to stop using the pipes; of course, DF’s are vehemently against this.

Issue(s): Under KS property law, does an adjoining landowner who shares a lateral sewage drain (connection) have the right to enjoin his neighbors with the contention the sewer which went through his land and through the adjoining land, was an easement, a term not described in his deed, when the pipes from the adjoining landowners cause sewage to accumulate in his basement?

Holding: No. Common sense would lend PL adjoining landowner to make a thorough inspection of the land, which he did, and know that a sewage connection was a necessary part of the modern plumbing system

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: After wrestling with the old common law doctrines, the court decided to go with common sense, and common practice. An easement created by implication arises ann inference of the intentions of the parties to a conveyance of land. The inference is drawn from the circumstances under which the conveyance was made rather than from the language of the conveyance. The easement may arise in favor of the conveyor or the conveyee.

The treatise on property included, of its eight factors for determining the implication of easements of profits, looked to the last factor specifically, “the extent to which the manner of prior use was or might have been known to the parties.” In doing so, they found the standard which this court holds: if you know at the time of the conveyance or should reasonably know (through common sense) through reasonably prudent investigation, then the easement is implied.

Thus, if a person is informed of something important like drainage, sewage, electricity, or the like, then there is actual notice. If they do not know, they should reasonably know by the prudent actions of a buyer, which include inspection of the property. Here, PL purchased with actual notice. He knew there was modern plumbing, and that the plumbing had to drain into a sewer. Thus, PL was charged with notice of the lateral sewer.

Rule: Where one grants a parcel of land to another, by a deed containing full covenants of warranty and without any express reservation, there can be no reservation by implication, unless the easement claimed is one of strict necessity. The standard for discovery under this rule is a “known or should have reasonably known with reasonably prudent investigation.”

Did court avoid issues?: No.

Dicta: Common law said the implied easement could not exist; it had to be explicitly stated, than it changed to an in implied reservation for the conveyor. Then overthrown. Then the rule was transformed through treatise and case law to what it is today.

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