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Fitzstephens v. Watson

Oregon Supreme Court
344 P.2d 221 (1959)


Mr. and Mrs. Davies owned a ranch and used the property’s spring water by diverting it from a creek into a pipe that flowed to a storage tank. In 1946, the Mairses bought part of the ranch. As part of the sale, the parties orally agreed that remaining part of the ranch would operate as a servient tract and supply the Mairses’ dominant tract with water. Mr. and Mrs. Davies later executed and delivered an instrument entitled “Easement Deed” to the Mairses. The deed stated that the “grantors have agreed to furnish to the grantees water for use.” The deed also stated that the “grantors hereby covenant that they, their heirs or assigns will maintain a reservoir” on the ranch to supply water to the Mairses’ dominant tract. In 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Davies conveyed the servient tract to the Watsons (defendants). The Mairses developed a fishing resort on the dominant tract. In 1948, the Mairses sold part of the dominant tract, including resort buildings, to Mr. Fitzstephens (plaintiff). The Watsons also developed the servient tract as a fishing resort. Beginning in 1949, the Watsons shut off water to Fitzstephens’s property. The Watsons claimed Fitzstephens wasted water and the shut off was necessary to maintain enough water for the Watsons’ resort. In 1954, the Watsons officially declared they would no longer permit Fitzstephens to use any of the water from the servient tract system. Fitzstephens sued. Fitzstephens argued that the shut off forced him to obtain water from another source at considerable cost. The trial court held that the Easement Deed was a valid and perpetual easement and enjoined the Watsons from interfering with Fitzstephens’s use of the water. The Watsons appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connell, J.)

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