Monday, January 6, 2014

M.P.M. Builders, LLC v. Dwyer case brief

M.P.M. Builders, LLC v. Dwyer case brief summary
809 N.E.2d 1053 (2004)

The court granted direct review to an appeal by plaintiff servient owner from an order of the Land Court Department of Suffolk (Massachusetts).  Summary judgment was entered in favor of defendant dominant owner of an easement interest.  The court dismissed the servient owner's action seeking a declaration that it could relocate a right-of-way.

The dominant owner's right-of-way, which provided access to a public way, had three branches, which were based on old cartways. Before the servient owner had subdivided its property for development, the servient owner had sought to consolidate the right-of-way and improve it. The dominant owner rejected the proposal.

  • The upper court held that the trial court correctly applied Massachusetts case law in denying relief to the servient owner, but the court went on to adopt a rule that was beginning to gain acceptance after its articulation in the Restatement. 
  • The new rule allowed the owner of a servient estate to relocate a right-of-way, if there was no contrary provision in the instrument which created the easement, so long as the easement's utility was not lessened, the easement owner was not burdened in its use and enjoyment, and the easement's purpose was not frustrated.
  • Therefore, the cause would have to be remanded for findings on the above issues.
The court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, in which the trial court was to determine whether the servient owner had met certain conditions (see above) announced in the holding.

See also: M.P.M. Builders, LLC v. Dwyer full case text on Google Scholar.

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