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Graves v. Dennis

Supreme Court of South Dakota
691 N.W.2d 315 (2004)


Facts

William and Nelva Blenner owned Lot 11 and the south portion of Lot 1 (Lot 1 had been subdivided). Elson and Anna Leavitt and Rita Larson (collectively, the Leavitts) owned the north portion of Lot 1. In 1978, the Blenners granted the Leavitts an easement running from Lot 1 North, through Lot 11 to a main road. In 1981, Thomas Vaughn bought Lot 11, and the Blenners bought Lot 1 North. The Blenners obtained an easement from Vaughn, which ran from Lot 1 South, through Lot 11 to the main road. The Blenners used this 1981 easement exclusively for access to the main road. The 1978 easement from Lot 1 North was never used. In 1982, the Blenners sold Lot 1 to Gary and Patricia Graves (plaintiffs). Like the Blenners, the Graveses used the 1981 easement exclusively. Vaughn, unaware of the 1978 easement although it was recorded, built a garage blocking the 1978 easement. In 2002, Thomas and Carla Dennis (defendants) bought Lot 11. A dispute arose between the Graveses and the Dennises regarding the 1981 easement, and the Graveses brought suit. While the suit was pending, the Graveses learned of the 1978 easement. They amended their complaint to seek a declaratory judgment regarding their right to use the 1978 easement. The trial court ruled that the 1978 easement had been abandoned. The Graveses appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Konenkamp, J.)

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