Pat H. Roundtree et al. v. John Hutchinson

107 P. 345 (1910)

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Pat H. Roundtree et al. v. John Hutchinson

Washington Supreme Court
107 P. 345 (1910)

KL

Facts

Beginning in 1855, a group of neighbors used a plot of land owned by one neighbor as a cemetery. By the time the landowner sold the land in 1884, 40 people had been buried there. That buyer sold the land to John Hutchinson (defendant) in 1887. Hutchinson and the prior owner were aware that the land was used as a burial ground. Hutchinson forbade the burying of additional remains after taking over ownership of the land but did not object to the fact that the land was used as a cemetery. Hutchinson’s stance changed in 1908, when he removed the tombstones and plowed and seeded the ground. Pat H. Roundtree and other family members of those buried there (Roundtree) (plaintiffs) sued to restrain Hutchinson from desecrating the burial ground and to establish a right to enter and exit the land by the family members of the deceased. The lower courts ruled for Roundtree, finding that the prior landowners’ usage of the land created an implied dedication of the burial ground to public use. Hutchinson appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gose, J.)

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