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Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc. v. Philwold Estates, Inc.

Court of Appeals of New York
418 N.E.2d 1310 (1981)


Bradford once owned land on both sides of the Neversink River. In 1923, he sold portions of the land on both banks to Crane, retaining some of the land reserving an easement for hunting and fishing on the rest of the land. The west bank portion was sold via a deed that restricted its use solely for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a hydroelectric plant along with any facilities and structures necessary for that purpose. In 1927, Crane sold the land, subject to the covenant and easement, to Rockland Light and Power Company, now Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (Rockland) (plaintiff). The property that Bradford had retained was ultimately sold to Philwold Estates, Inc. Wechsler (defendant) was a partner in the company that owned Philwold Estates. Wechsler withdrew from that partnership, receiving Bradford’s former property along with the hunting and fishing easement. In 1940, New York City condemned all of Rockland’s riparian rights in the Neversink River. Rockland sued to extinguish the covenant because the condemnation deprived it of any meaningful use of its property. The trial court dismissed the action as barred by the statute of limitations. The appellate division reversed and held that the covenant should be extinguished because the covenant served no purpose and rendered Rockland’s land valueless. Wechsler appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Meyer, J.)

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