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Warsaw v. Chicago Metallic Ceilings, Inc.

Supreme Court of California
676 P. 2d 584 (1984)



Warsaw (plaintiff) and Chicago Metallic Ceilings, Inc. (CMC) (defendant) owned adjoining properties. Warsaw built a large commercial building on its land and included a 40-foot wide driveway for truck access to the building’s loading dock. CMC built a smaller building on its land and left vacant a 150-foot-wide strip next to Warsaw’s property. Warsaw’s 40-foot strip was too small to allow trucks to turn and back into the loading dock without accessing CMC’s strip. From 1972 to 1979, trucks and other vehicles that serviced Warsaw’s building used CMC’s strip to enter, turn, park, and exit Warsaw’s loading dock. Warsaw made at least two unsuccessful attempts to acquire an easement from CMC. In 1979, CMC developed plans to build a warehouse on its strip. CMC raised a pad of earth five feet from its property line, effectively blocking Warsaw’s use of the strip. Warsaw sought injunctive and declaratory relief. The trial court denied Warsaw’s request for a preliminary injunction, and CMC proceeded to construct a building on the strip. The trial court subsequently found that Warsaw had acquired a 25-foot-wide prescriptive easement over Chicago’s strip. The court ordered CMC to remove the portion of the building that interfered with the easement and reserved jurisdiction to award damages for CMC’s failure to comply. CMC appealed, claiming that: (1) there was no prescriptive easement, because Warsaw’s use was permissive and not hostile; (2) the court could not issue a mandatory injunction for a completed act; and (3) the court was overly harsh in granting Warsaw a free easement and also requiring CMC to relocate or reconstruct its building.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Richardson, J.)

Concurrence (Grodin, J.)

Dissent (Reynoso, J.)

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