The Larsson Family Trust owns a 160-acre parcel. Adjoining it is a 122-acre parcel that was purchased by Jimmy and Deama Grabach in 1998. At that time, there was an unpaved road across the Grabach property that the Larssons used to reach a public road.
After purchasing their property, Jimmy Grabach locked the road gate between the two parcels. The Larsson Family Trust sued the Grabachs for an easement by necessity to their landlocked property that lacked access to a public road, or for an easement by implication due to the previous use.
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Evidence showed the two parcels were created in 1942 when Nelson Nathan Logan died intestate without a will. His property was distributed by the probate court to his heirs, each receiving adjoining parcels.
Douglas Larsson, by inheritance, acquired his 160-acre property in 1995. When the Grabachs bought their adjoining parcel in 1998, they were aware of the dirt road over it used by the Larssons.
If you were the judge would you grant the Larssons either an easement by necessity or an easement by implication over the adjoining Grabach property to reach their landlocked parcel?
The judge said yes!
The general rule is all properties should have access to a public road, the judge began. In this case, he continued, the two parcels were subdivided in 1942 after Nelson Nathan Logan died intestate.
The landlocked parcel used a dirt road over what is now the Grabach parcel to reach the public road, the judge explained. Until the Grabachs bought that adjoining parcel in 1998, there were no problems using the dirt road over what became their property, he noted.
An easement by necessity can often be created over an adjoining parcel to reach a landlocked parcel, the judge emphasized. But that is not required in this case, he commented, because after 1942 there was a dirt road over the Grabach property to benefit the landlocked parcel, he emphasized.
When a property owner’s existing use of part of an adjoining servient property for access is obvious, and the easement is necessary to reach the quasi-dominant tenement, an easement by implication exists, the judge ruled.
Therefore, the Larsson Family Trust is entitled to an easement by implication (rather than an easement by necessity) over the Grabach property to reach their landlocked parcel, the judge concluded.
Based on the 2004 California Court of Appeal decision in Larsson v. Grabach, 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 136.
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