Massachusetts Plaintiff Seeks to Enforce Greater Easement Rights Against Town in Property Action

If you believe that your property rights are being violated, you may be able to bring an action to stop or enjoin the actions of another individual or entity in court.  In an August 24, 2017 Massachusetts real estate case, the plaintiff filed an action claiming an easement over registered property owned by the town of Plymouth, and he sought to enjoin the town from interfering with his easement.  Although the plaintiff had a public right of access over the town’s property, he sought to enforce greater easement rights, which he argued the town violated by relocating the easement without his consent.

The Land Court ruled that the plaintiff had an implied easement to cross the town’s land to the sea, but it was limited in scope.  Specifically, the court held that the easement entitled the plaintiff to enter and cross the town’s land only on the path designated by the town.  The plaintiff appealed the judgment to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

The plaintiff purchased his property in 2010.  His lot was originally part of a larger parcel divided into three lots in 1911.  None of the deeds to the three lots contained or reserved an express easement for the benefit of the plaintiff’s lot.  A paved way over one of the lots led to a public park on another lot and to the harbor.  The plaintiff purchased his lot for access to the harbor.  Due to a physical disability, the plaintiff’s only means to access the harbor is by using an amphibious vehicle from his lot to the boat landing on the other lot.  The plaintiff contended that the reconstruction of the public park and the construction of a boat ramp at the northern end of the park essentially relocated his easement, making it less convenient and more difficult to use.

The appeals court first addressed whether the plaintiff’s lot had an express easement over the paved way to the sea.  The court concluded that the original registration decree did not grant or reserve easement rights for the owners of the land, and the language of the three deeds was insufficient to revive an easement that may have existed before the original parcel came into common ownership.

The court next considered the issue of an implied easement.  The court found that for the same reasons that the language was insufficient to grant an express easement, it also did not give rise to an implied easement for the benefit of the plaintiff’s land.  Consequently, the court held that the plaintiff had no express or implied easement over the lot containing the path, and the implied easement over the lot accessing the harbor was limited in scope and was not altered by the reconstruction.  Accordingly, the plaintiff possessed only those rights enjoyed by the general public and had no other separate express or implied easement.

Pulgini & Norton provides legal representation and advice regarding Massachusetts real estate law.  Our experienced property attorneys can guide you through your home purchase or sale, explain mortgage financing options, contest a foreclosure proceeding, and handle other matters.  Discuss your residential real estate needs with a qualified attorney at Pulgini & Norton by calling (781) 990-2200 or contacting us online to schedule your appointment.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Landowner Seeks Injunction Prohibiting Neighbor’s Use of Beach Path, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published July 24, 2017

Massachusetts Property Owner Opposes Second Story Addition to Neighbor’s Beach House, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 26, 2017

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