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Boyd v. BellSouth Telephone Telegraph Co.

633 S.E.2d 136 (2006)

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Boyd v. BellSouth Telephone Telegraph Co.

South Carolina Supreme Court

633 S.E.2d 136 (2006)

Facts

BellSouth Telephone Telegraph Co., Inc. (BellSouth) (defendant) owned property in Denmark, South Carolina, with public streets on three sides and a three-story building. Bellsouth built a driveway from the double doors at the back of the building to the street behind it. In 1988 BellSouth divided the property and sold the front parcel with the building to the city. The city sold the property to John Boyd, who conveyed it to his wife, Caroline Boyd (plaintiff), to use for an antique store. Part of the Boyds’ decision to purchase the property was based on having driveway access for deliveries, as large items could be delivered directly to the basement using the rear doors. The interior stairways and hallways were too narrow to bring large items into the basement from the front doors. Caroline used the driveway for deliveries for years. But after 9/11, BellSouth installed a fence to increase security, cutting off the driveway access. Caroline sued BellSouth claiming she had an easement by necessity, prior use, or on equitable estoppel grounds. The evidence showed building an alternate driveway would be impractical and too expensive. A special referee granted summary judgment for BellSouth, but the appellate court partially reversed, reasoning a factual question remained as to the necessity of an easement by prior use. However, the appellate court also found the strict necessity required for an easement by necessity lacking. BellSouth appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burnett, J.)

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