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Block v. Sexton

Minnesota Court of Appeals
577 N.W.2d 521 (1998)


Facts

Rita Sexton (defendant) owned an unimproved parcel of property that was formerly part of a farm owned by her parents. During the months of May to October each year, between 1941 and 1982, Sexton accessed the parcel from the highway via a field road that intersected with adjoining land owned by James and Florence Billig (defendants). The road was wide enough for cars, trucks, and farm machinery to pass through. Sometime prior to 1950, a gate was installed at one end of the road. Sexton continued to use the road despite the addition of the gate. In 1981, Billig also installed a lock, but informed Sexton she could still use the road. In 1992, Sexton planned to sell her parcel of land, notifying all prospective buyers that the property could be accessed from the highway via the road that intersected Billig’s land. Dean and Lisa Block (plaintiffs) subsequently purchased the land and claimed a prescriptive easement across Billig’s property based on Sexton’s prior use of the road. The district court determined that, although Sexton’s use of the road was sporadic, it was open, visible, continuous, and uncontested between 1941 and 1982, and suitable to the unimproved nature of the land. The court therefore concluded that the Blocks held a prescriptive easement, but limited such easement to use between May and October of each year and to a width of 20 feet. The Billigs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lansing, J.)

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