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Castle Associates v. Schwartz

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
63 A.D.2d 481 (1978)


William Simpson acquired a plot of land in 1883 in Suffolk County, New York. The plot was bounded by two parallel streets: East Shore Road on the west and Bay Avenue on the east. In 1903, Simpson sold the southwest corner of this land. This portion of the land happened to be difficult to access from the west. A provision in the deed was included, allowing the owner of the southwest parcel a 12-foot wide easement to access Bay Avenue on the east. It also stipulated that a road would be opened once Simpson sold any portion of the land bordering Bay Avenue, although it did not define where the road would be located. In 1907, Simpson sold the northeastern portion of his plot, bordering on Bay Avenue. The road mentioned in the deed was never opened, and no objections were raised by the owner of the southwest portion. Later that year, Simpson sold the northwest portion of the property to Juliana Ferguson, who then proceeded to purchase the northeast and southwest portions as well. In 1946, Simpson sold his remaining portion, the southeast corner, to John Knutson (defendant). Knutson then constructed a fence around the southeast parcel. Eventually, the other three plots were purchased by Castle Associates (plaintiff), who discovered the provision in the 1903 deed, permitting access to Bay Avenue from the southwest parcel. Castle Associates demanded that Knutson allow them access to Bay Avenue through his land, as Castle Associates was going to develop the southwestern plot. When Knutson declined, Castle Associates brought suit. Special term found that when Ferguson purchased the three plots of land, the dominant and servient estates were merged, thus extinguishing the easement created by the deed. Castle Associates appealed to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Damiani, J.)

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