Monday, January 6, 2014

Pavlik v. Consolidation Coal Co. case brief

Pavlik v. Consolidation Coal Co. case brief summary
456 F.2d 378 (1972)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant landowner challenged an order of the United States District Court, which held that an easement was not terminated through a defeasance clause. The easement was granted by appellant's predecessor in title to appellee coal company for a pipeline used for transportation of coal slurry and appellant contended that under the defeasance clause, the pipeline had not been used for over a year and the easement was terminated.

CASE FACTS
Appellant landowner received title to land in which the predecessor in title had granted an easement to appellee coal company. The easement provided for a pipeline to be used for the transportation of coal slurry. The easement contained a defeasance clause that provided for termination of the easement if the pipeline was not used for its intended use. Subsequently, the pipeline was placed in an inactive state, but under the easement it was maintained in a stand-by mode ready to go into operation as soon as practicable.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Appellant filed a motion to terminate the easement and the trial court held that the easement was not terminated. Appellants challenged the ruling and the court vacated the order and remanded.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that when the pipeline was deactivated, the defeasance clause should have been given its intended effect. 
  • The court found that the language of the clause was clear and unambiguous and that the intent of the parties was to terminate the easement if the transmission of coal slurry ceased for a year.

CONCLUSION
The court vacated the order of the trial court which held that an easement granted to appellee coal company by appellant landowner's predecessor in title was not terminated through a defeasance clause, because the pipeline had not been used for the stated purpose of transportation of coal slurry for over one year and therefore the plain language of the defeasance clause should have been given its intended effect.

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