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REAL ESTATE 79: Plaintiffs lacked standing to directly enforce the easement.

Defendants are residents of the Subdivision No. 1. Defendants’ lots abut a man-made canal, Channel 1. Plaintiffs are residents of the Park Subdivision, which is located on the other side of Channel 1.

At issue in this case is the extent to which defendants are responsible for maintaining the western seawall of Channel 1, which abuts the five-foot strip along Elm Lane. Plaintiffs allege that defendants’ failure to repair and maintain the western seawall has allowed water to infiltrate the five-foot strip adjacent to Elm Lane, thereby causing erosion and damage to Elm Lane and plaintiffs’ properties.

Easement

The Court determined in a prior case that the developer was the owner of the land beneath Channel 1 and the five-foot strip, but that the defendant homeowners of Subdivision No. 1 had an easement right of way to use the channels for navigational purposes. This Court also addressed who was responsible for maintaining Channel 1, including the seawalls, and held that the defendant homeowners, as the dominant lot owners having an easement right of way to use the channels for navigational purposes, were required to maintain channel one and the sea walls abutting it.

Easement Rights Contractual in Nature

Defendants argued that their easement rights were contractual in nature, and plaintiffs lacked standing to enforce the easement because they were not parties to it. Lastly, defendants submitted that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that defendants owed them a duty of care independent of any contractual duties under the easement.

Plaintiffs Lacked Standing

The trial court ruled that plaintiffs lacked standing to directly enforce the easement under a contractual theory because they were not parties to the easement. The court noted that it was undisputed that defendants did not own Channel 1 or the western seawall, and that they were granted an easement only for navigational purposes.

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