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Private drive easement extinguished where property owners are not landlocked and did not actually use easement

The court held that the defendants-Kosts were not entitled to a prescriptive easement, concluding that by a combination of estoppel and overt acts, they abandoned any easement rights they might have had remaining in the property that was platted as W Drive. The case centered around claims to portions of what are now referred to as E Drive and W Drive. Relevant to the appeal, the Kosts own a block of lots on the south side of W Drive, and plaintiff-LaFave owns a number of lots on the opposite side of W Drive but also contiguously to the east of the Kosts' lots. The trial court vacated the portion of W Drive touching the Kosts' and LaFave's lots, with title to the vacated land reverting to the abutting property owners. Thus, LaFave's lots on opposite sides of W Drive became contiguous, cutting off the Kosts' lots from accessing the street further to the east over W Drive. On appeal, the issue was whether the Kosts possessed a remaining easement interest in the use of W Drive over what would otherwise now be LaFave's property to access their property. The court disagreed with the trial court's legal assessment that the relevant portion of 2000 Baum Family Trust was not binding. In principle, the public abandonment of W Drive "would, all other things being equal, leave the Kosts with a remaining private easement right to continue making use of the land that used to be" W Drive for the historical purpose to which W Drive was intended to be put. "However, that right is not an absolute one. The trial court found as a factual matter," and the court had no cause to disagree, "that the Kosts not only did not actually use the easement, but acted in a manner more indicative of a desire to preclude anyone else from using it." The court agreed with the trial court that the "outcome of this matter would differ if the Kosts' property would be land locked without a right to traverse the land platted as" W Drive. It found no clear error in the trial court's holding that "the Kosts will not be inconvenienced by losing a technical right that they never exercised and, based on their actions rather than their words, that they desired to terminate in any event." Affirmed.


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