CURTIS D. DEANE v. AMY DAY KAHN et al., SC 19324

Judicial District of Hartford

 

      Property; Easements; Whether Appellate Court Properly Reversed Enforcement of Right-of-Way by Deed on Basis of Failure to Prove its Location or Scope; Whether Appellate Court Properly Reversed Enforcement of Right-of-Way by Implication or Necessity on Basis of Failure to Prove What Use was Made of it at Time Property Became Effectively Landlocked. Plaintiff Curtis D. Deane owns a sloping parcel of property whose southern boundary abuts the Connecticut River.  Defendant Amy Day Kahn's property adjoins the western side of Deane’s, and defendant John Gorman's parcel adjoins the western side of Kahn's property.  The properties were once part of a large estate of riverfront property owned by Harriet Warner.  Deane brought this action seeking to quiet title to an alleged right-of-way across the Gorman and Kahn properties to access the lower riverfront portion of his property from the west.  He claimed a right to pass across the Gorman parcel by virtue of a 1935 deed that reserved a right-of-way "in perpetuity across said tract along the route now in use."  He also claimed that an easement by necessity over the intervening Kahn property arose in 1960, when the eastern portion of the estate was divided into separate tracts now owned by Deane and Kahn.  The trial court found that, in 1935, when Warner reserved a right-of-way over what is now the Gorman property, she created an easement that ran eastward along the riverfront to the Kahn and Deane properties.  Noting that the easement in favor of the Deane property over the Gorman property would have been extinguished as a result of the 1960 conveyances unless the new owner had a legal right of passage over the Kahn property, the court concluded that an easement by necessity over the Kahn property was created at that juncture.  The court found that the recognition of such an easement was both consonant with the intent of the conveyor in 1960 and reasonably necessary to provide Deane with the beneficial enjoyment of his property because, although his parcel is not landlocked, the lower riverfront portion is inaccessible to vehicular traffic from the upper portion.  Gorman and Kahn appealed, and the Appellate Court (149 Conn. App. 62) determined that Deane failed to prove his right by deed to pass along the riverfront over the Gorman property because there was no evidence from 1935 regarding the easement's precise location or intended use.  The Appellate Court also reversed the trial court's determination that an easement by necessity existed over the Kahn property, explaining that the trial court failed to make any findings as to the reasonable necessity to access the lower portion of the Deane property in 1960 or as to the use of it at that time.  The Supreme Court will now decide the following issues: (1) Did the Appellate Court properly reverse the judgment of the trial court enforcing the right-of-way by deed on the ground that Deane failed to prove its location or use?  (2) Did the Appellate Court properly reverse the judgment enforcing a right-of-way by implication or necessity on the ground that Deane failed to prove what use was made of the right-of-way at the time the riverfront portion of his property became effectively landlocked?