It may seem unusual that, despite owning a parcel of property, some non-owners may have a limited right to use a portion of it. One of the legal devices to convey such use is called an easement. In a December 20, 2017 case, a plaintiff filed an action with the Massachusetts Land Court to remove alleged clouds on the title to his property. In two of the counts in his complaint, the plaintiff sought to establish that the defendants did not have the right or benefit of an easement over his land. The parties’ lots were part of a subdivision they purchased from the developer.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the issues before the Land Court. The plaintiff argued that the defendants had no right to use areas of his land that were designated as “cart paths” in the recorded deeds and subdivision plans. The plaintiff also contended that the developer had no right to a private driveway easement that was referenced in the deeds as crossing his land.
The court first looked at the language of the deeds and other recorded documents to determine whether the defendants had rights over the cart paths on the plaintiff’s land. While noting that the documents did depict the cart paths, the court explained that none of the deeds mentioned any rights that were granted or reserved over any of them. The court also pointed out that there were no facts to suggest that easements over the cart paths arose by implication, common scheme, or necessity. Accordingly, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff with respect to the cart paths, finding that the defendants did not have any right to use the cart paths on his land.