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Simone v. Heidelberg

Court of Appeals of New York
877 N.E.2d 1288 (2007)


Facts

The parcels of property known as 157-159 Driggs and 163-165 Driggs are adjacent to each other. In 1933, the owners of each parcel created an easement. The owner of the dominant estate, 157-159 Driggs, obtained access to a portion of the servient estate, 163-165 Driggs Street, in order to access a garage located on the dominant estate. In 1978, the Accardos acquired both parcels. In 1982, the Accardos subdivided 163-165 Driggs into two. They transferred one of the subdivided parcels, 163 Driggs, to the Webers in a deed that did not reference the easement. In 1984, the Accardos transferred 157-159 Driggs to the Corrados. The terms of this deed did reference the easement, referring to 163 Driggs as the servient estate. In 1993, the Webers conveyed 163 Driggs to the plaintiffs. Although the deed did not reference the easement, the plaintiffs were aware that an easement had previously existed. In 1996, the Corrados conveyed 157-159 Driggs to the defendants in a deed that referenced the easement. But by 2003, the garage on the defendants’ property was no longer used for storing cars, in part because a tree and a fence on the defendants’ property blocked access to the garage. Additionally, the Webers had constructed a permanent deck on the servient property over part of the easement area. In December 2003, the defendants removed the tree and fence in order to make use of the easement. The plaintiffs brought suit, seeking a declaration that the easement was unenforceable. The defendants counterclaimed for a declaration that the easement was enforceable or, in the alternative, that the easement survived by necessity. The Supreme Court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that the easement had extinguished when the Accardos became the common owners of both parcels, and that it had not been re-created because the deed transferring the servient estate did not reference the easement. The Appellate Division reversed, stating that, although the easement was extinguished by merger, it had been re-created because the deed conveying the dominant estate referenced the easement and the owners of the servient estate were aware of its existence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ciparick, J.)

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