Wetmore v. The Ladies of Loretto Wheaton Case Brief

Summary of Wetmore v. The Ladies of Loretto Wheaton, App Ct IL [1966]

Relevant Facts: Df, Wheaton is a non profit corp which bought a landlocked 10 acre tract for a convent. Pl sold the tract with an express E across the east side of the tract toward Hawthorne Rd. The E was over an existing driveway. Pl later sold another tract on the w and s of the 10 acre but did not want to sell the right to use a 33 ft strip w/o selling the whole tract. Df purchased the whole tract. Pl wanted the other E given up in exchange but Df declined and said it would redirect the traffic. Pl prepared a memo to that effect and the tract was sold. Traffic increased and then Df built House of Studies. Pl’s complaint alleges that the building situated partly on each tract extended the use of the EX E to the 40 a tract, not its intended purpose.

Legal Issue(s): Whether Df who had bought small tract within Pl’s land, with express easement to east, and who then bought larger westerly portion of Pl’s tract, including access to west, was entitled to have rights over existing express easement extended by implication for benefit of larger tract? Whether the circumstances entitled Pl to and injunction on account of trivial and inconsequential misuse?

Court’s Holding: No and No.

Procedure: Trial ct issued injunction in favor of PL; App Ct Reversed and Remanded.

Law or Rule(s): If easement is appurtenant to one tract, any extension thereof to another tract is a misuse.

Court Rationale: The owner of the DE was responsible for the extension of the burden and the owner of the SE had no connection or control over the extension. Pl conveyed the additional tract to the Df. Pl was not totally w/o command or control over the extension of the use of the E. Prior to the construction of the House of Studies or any use, the traffic over the E was 40-50 cars a day, and after erection of the facilities and Loretto Lane the traffic was reduced to 4-5 cars per day. Despite which the PL sought and obtained an injunction limiting the Df’s use of the access. The construction resulted in a technical misuse of the easement appurtenant. Such a trivial and inconsequential misuse neither justifies an injunction restraining df’s use of theE expressly granted, nor warrants the authorization granted to Pl to close Hawthorne Lane.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The right of way easement should be extinguished or the use should be enjoined b/c it is impossible to sever or distinguish between the authorized or unauthorized use of the servient estate. The use of the original E was extended for use by the House of Studies.

Defendant’s Argument: Not every extension of the use of an E to an additional tract is misuse, and only where the extension materially changes the burden on the servient estate as to the type of use or the amt is there a misuse.

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

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