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Lewis v. Young

New York Court of Appeals
705 N.E.2d 649 (N.Y. 1998)


Facts

In 1956, Herman and Jeanette Brown divided a parcel of land into three pieces. They sold one piece to Marygaele and Theodore Jaffe, and another to Donald and Gertrude Katz. They kept the third piece for themselves. The deed of conveyance to the Jaffes also conveyed three easements, including a right to the perpetual use of the Browns’ main driveway. The deed did not specifically describe the location of the driveway, and did not mention any right to relocate the driveway. The Browns’ parcel was purchased by Neda Young (defendant) and her husband in 1990. They wished to make extensive improvements to the property, including building a new home, swimming pool, and tennis court. The tennis court overlay the original main driveway, so they relocated the driveway. The relocated driveway ran almost the same course as the old driveway. The Jaffe’s property then passed to Roger Lewis (plaintiff), who almost immediately demanded that the Youngs refinish the relocated driveway with a hard surface and plant evergreen trees along both sides. The Youngs agreed to do so, but the refinishing was delayed by Mr. Young’s death. Lewis demanded that Ms. Young complete the improvements on the driveway within ten days, and threatened to reconstruct the original driveway at her expense. He later filed suit against her, seeking an injunction requiring her to restore the driveway to its original location. The trial court granted him partial summary judgment, holding that he had a permanent easement over Young’s property that she had no right to move. The court granted his request for an order compelling Young to restore the driveway at its original location or allow him to restore it at her expense. The intermediate appellate court affirmed, and Young appealed to the state supreme court.

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Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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