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News & Press: Court Cases

Equitable Easements

Tuesday, May 15, 2018  
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Hansen v. Sandridge Partners

Cal.App. 5th Dist. (F073106) 4/6/18 (Pub. Order 5/1/18)

Citing Nellie Gail Ranch Owners Assn. v. McMullin (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 982, the court explained that three factors must be present to establish an equitable easement: 1) The encroacher must be innocent. That is, the encroachment must not be willful or negligent, 2) Unless the rights of the public would be harmed, the court should stop the encroachment if the burdened landowner will suffer irreparable injury regardless of the injury to the encroacher, and 3. The hardship to the encroacher from ordering removal of the encroachment must be greatly disproportionate to the hardship caused the burdened landowner by the continuance of the encroachment. Here, plaintiffs negligently planted a pistachio orchard on defendant's property, and defendant was not contributorily negligent, so plaintiffs did not establish the first element of an equitable easement. Plaintiffs also could not establish a prescriptive easement because the encroachment would be exclusive. An exclusive easement has the same effect on property rights as adverse possession, so the elements of adverse possession have to be established. Plaintiff was not able to establish the element of adverse possession requiring payment of property taxes.


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