The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiffs did not demonstrate they had a deeded easement over the disputed land, but did demonstrate they had a prescriptive easement, although the extent of the easement must be determined at trial:
“An easement is not a personal right of the landowner but is an appurtenance to the land benefitted by it . . . and a grant of the land carries with it the grant of the easement” … . “An easement appurtenant occurs when [an] easement is created in writing, subscribed by the creator, and burdens the servient estate for the benefit of the dominant estate” … . However, “[t]he long-accepted rule in this State holds that a deed with a reservation or exception by the grantor in favor of a third party, a so called ‘stranger to the deed,’ does not create a valid interest in favor of that third party” … . Thus, “[f]or an easement by grant to be effective, the dominant and servient properties must have a common grantor” … .
Here, the defendant made a prima facie showing of his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law declaring that the plaintiffs do not have a deeded easement over the disputed area by “establishing that, at the time the easement was purportedly created, the grantor owned the servient property, but not the dominant property … . * * *
… [P]laintiffs established … their predecessors in interest acquired an easement by prescription over the disputed area, which easement ran with the land when the plaintiffs purchased the property in 2018 … . Notably, the defendant learned of the purported deeded easement in 2005 and assumed that it was valid until at least July 2019. Therefore, the defendant’s relationship to the dominant estate’s use of the driveway area was one of acquiescence, rather than permission … . … Supreme Court erred in denying that branch of the plaintiffs’ cross-motion which was for summary judgment declaring that they have a prescriptive easement over the disputed area. Daniello v Wagner, 2023 NY Slip Op 06116, Second Dept 11-29-23
Practice Point: The criteria for a deeded easement and a prescriptive easement are clearly explained.