Easements can be vital to allow access to and from a parcel of property. In a recent Massachusetts real estate case, the plaintiffs filed an action in Land Court seeking to establish that they held an access easement over land owned by the defendant. When the Land Court granted a summary judgment motion in favor of the defendant, the plaintiffs appealed the decision. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts reviewed the case and ultimately reversed the judgment in an October 12, 2018 order and opinion.
The plaintiffs in the case owned property on a peninsula that juts into a river. The property is connected to the mainland by a causeway and access road that runs through a marsh. Although the plaintiffs owned the access road from their property to the causeway, they were concerned that it would be difficult if not impossible to widen or improve the road due to the marsh. The plaintiffs therefore sought to establish an alternative means of reaching the causeway through a right of way over the defendant’s land.
To rebut the defendant’s summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs pointed to prior deeds to two lots that were part of the defendant’s current property. The deeds referenced a right of way over the lots for the use of landowners to the south of the lots. Because the plaintiffs’ property was located south of the lots, they claimed that they are among those intended to benefit from the right of way in the deed. The plaintiffs also produced plans that depicted a right of way running south across the defendant’s property, and eventually connecting to the causeway leading out of the peninsula.