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Brown v. Voss

Supreme Court of Washington
715 P.2d 514 (1986)


Facts

[Ed. Note: the reader should consult the casebook for a diagram depicting the land at issue.] In 1952, the then-owners of Parcel A granted the then-owners of Parcel B a private road easement which was to be used for ingress and egress to and from Parcel B through Parcel A. Voss (defendant) acquired Parcel A in 1973, and Brown (plaintiff) acquired Parcels B and C in 1977, at different times and from different owners. The previous owners of Parcel C had nothing to do with the easement relating to Parcel B. Brown desired to build a house on his land straddling Parcels B and C and began preparations for this endeavor in November 1977. In April 1979, after Brown had spent almost $11,000 preparing to build the house, Voss placed a fence, logs, and a concrete sump on the easement land in order to prevent Brown from further using it. Brown sued to have the obstructions removed. Voss countersued to prevent Brown from using the easement for access to anything other than Parcel B. The trial court found (1) that there was no significant increase in the traffic along the easement as a result of Brown’s acquisition of Parcel C, (2) that Parcel C would be landlocked if access to it through the easement on Parcel A were prohibited, which would hamper Brown’s enjoyment of his land, and (3) that any order prohibiting Brown from using the easement to get to Parcel C would be impractical and unenforceable. The court ruled in favor of Brown and ordered that he be permitted to use the easement to access Parcels B and C. The Court of Appeals reversed, and Brown appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brachtenbach, J.)

Dissent (Dore, J.)

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