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Dupont v. Whiteside

Florida Court of Appeal
721 So. 2d 1259 (1998)


Facts

C. E. and Joyce Dupont (plaintiffs) sold about 32 acres of their property to Carl and Leona Whiteside (defendants) in 1980. The Whitesides built a home on the property near the waterfront by the St. Johns River. The public road accessing their property was on the lower portion of the property and wetlands separated the road from their home. Prior to purchasing the property, the Whitesides told the Duponts that they did not have access to the area where they planned to build their home. The Duponts responded that they were already building a road across the Duponts property. That road was completed before the Whitesides’ purchase of the property closed. However, the Whitesides did not obtain an express easement over the Duponts’ property. The Duponts had sold other parcels of their land and did grant express easements to the purchasers of those parcels. The Whitesides used the road over the Duponts’ property for 14 years. However, the Duponts objected to the continued use in 1994 and gave the Whitesides 60 days to establish alternative access. The Duponts then sued the Whitesides, seeking an injunction to prevent continued use of the road over the Duponts’ property. The Whitesides filed a counterclaim, seeking an irrevocable license to use the road or an easement by necessity. Testimony from the parties showed that it was possible to obtain a permit to build an access road over the wetlands, but that the permit would likely require a grant of a conservation easement over a portion of the wetlands and that the road would likely cost $40,000 to $50,000 to build. The trial court determined that the Whitesides had an easement by necessity, and the Duponts appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cobb, J.)

Dissent (Harris, J.)

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