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Henry v. Dalton

Rhode Island Supreme Court
151 A.2d 362 (1959)


Facts

In 1922, the Henrys (plaintiffs) purchased a house in Rhode Island next to the Daltons. The distance between the Henrys’ home and the Daltons’ home was 14.5 feet, only 5.8 feet of which was the Henrys’ property. In 1938, the Henrys wished to build a garage at the back of their property and approached the Daltons about making common use of their respective properties as a driveway. Mr. Dalton gave his permission. The Henrys filled in their property to bring it up to grade with the Daltons’ property and constructed the garage. Until 1957, both parties used the driveway freely and without incident. In 1956, the Henrys negotiated to sell their home. The Daltons knew that the Henrys intended to move and assured the Henrys that there would be no trouble with the driveway in the sale of the Henrys’ property. In November 1956, Mr. Henry asked the Daltons to execute a written easement for the driveway. Mr. Dalton refused and died shortly thereafter. The Henrys’ relationship with Ms. Dalton became strained. In December 1957, the Henrys sued. The Henrys claimed that the oral license granted by the Daltons became irrevocable when the Henrys, relying on the oral agreement, changed their position by making alterations on the Henrys’ property. The trial court found for the Daltons, and the Henrys appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powers, J.)

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