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Adverse Possession and Easement by Prescription

The Wallen family owned a cabin on Lummi Island in the state of Washington. A driveway ran from the cabin across their property to South Nugent Road. Floyd Massey bought the adjacent lot and built a cabin on it in 1980. To gain access to his property, Massey used a bulldozer to extend the driveway, without the Wallens' permission but also without their objection. In 2005, the Wallens sold their property to Wright Fish Co. Massey continued to use and maintain the driveway without permission or objection. In 2010, Massey sold his property to Robert Drake. Drake and his employees continued to use and maintain the driveway without permission or objection, although Drake knew it was located largely on Wright's property. In 2012, Wright sold its lot to Robert Smersh. The next year, Smersh told Drake to stop using the driveway. Drake filed a suit against Smersh, claiming an easement by prescription (which is created by meeting the same requirements as adverse possession).

1) Does Drake's use of the driveway meet all of the requirements for adverse possession (easement by prescription)?

2) What evidence, law, etc. supports this?

3) Is there a similar case that supports this as well?

4) How should the court rule given the information?

5) What law, regulation, evidence, previous case would support this ruling?

6) Does it matter that Drake knew the driveway was located largely on Wright's (and then Smersh's) property?

7) Should it matter? Why or why not?

8) In evaluating the underlying policy and fairness of adverse possession laws, should the law reward persons who take possession of someone else's land for their own use?

9) Does it make sense to punish owners who allow someone else to use their land without complaint?


Solution Summary

An examination of the application of adverse possession and easement by prescription made by a neighbor.