Gagnier v. Perkins
An owner who openly, visibly, continuously and uninterruptedly uses a driveway that is located on a neighbor's property for 15 years may be entitled to a prescriptive easement. In 1996, the defendants, Kim and Lawrence Perkins, purchased property in Quaker Hill, Conn. At the time that the defendants purchased their property, an attorney informed the plaintiff, who lived next door, that she lacked any deeded right-of-way or easement to a driveway located on the defendants' property. The plaintiff requested a declaratory judgment from the court that she possesses a right-of-way or easement to use the defendants' driveway. Connecticut General Statutes §47-37 provides, "No person may acquire a right-of-way or any other easement from, in, upon or over the land of another, by the adverse use or enjoyment thereof, unless the use has been continued uninterrupted for fifteen years." The court found that the plaintiff was entitled to a prescriptive easement, because she continuously used the driveway on the defendants' property since 1994, when she purchased her own property. The plaintiff never asked for or received the defendants' permission. The plaintiff's use of the defendants' driveway has been open, visible, continuous and uninterrupted. The court denied the plaintiff's requests to an easement by implication and an easement by necessity. Although a 1962 subdivision map mentions a 50-foot right-of-way, the court was not persuaded, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that the plaintiff was entitled to an easement by implication. The subject right-of-way was not included in the deeds that conveyed the plaintiff's and the defendants' properties, and an attorney informed the plaintiff in 1996 that she lacked a right-of-way or easement. The plaintiff also failed to establish, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that she was entitled to an easement by necessity. If the plaintiff was unable to use the right-of-way, she could, with difficulty, create a driveway on her own property. Although "it would be inconvenient for the plaintiff to install a driveway to access her property," wrote the court, "the circumstances here do not rise to those that necessitate a finding that an easement by necessity exists."