COA: Parties stipulation shows easement is necessary

In a dispute between neighbors, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a private property owner had to allow part of his land to be used to give access to a tract of land owned by a business.

Two adjacent pieces of property in Washington County, formally owned by Joseph Howell, were subjects of separate foreclosure actions. As part of those actions, he granted an easement to himself over the servient estate so he could reach the dominant estate.

Luther Collins bought the servient estate and Metro Real Estate Services purchased the dominant estate. However, Collins did not want the real estate company to use the easement that cut across his property. He filed a complaint but the Washington Circuit Court entered a judgment for Metro.

On appeal, Collins argued the business does not have to drive onto his property to get to its own land. He pointed out that the trial court did not find the parcel was landlocked or that an easement of necessity was appropriate.

Metro countered its property is landlocked and had no access other than Collins’s property.

In Luther T. Collins v. Metro Real Estate Services LLC, 88A05-1510-PL-1797, the appellate court found the easement was one of necessity. The unanimous panel noted both parties stipulated when Howell owned both pieces of property, there existed a unity of title. Also, both parties agreed the tract now owned by Metro was landlocked.

“In light of this evidence, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding an easement of necessity exists over the servient estate for the benefit of the dominant estate,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the court.

“… Based on the record before us, the most we can discern is that the dominant estate is landlocked, and an easement over the servient estate is necessary to guarantee access to a public roadway.”

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