Congressional Intent Behind Land Patent Essential For Easement Actions

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 12:00 am
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 6

When relying on the federal government as the common owner in a quiet title action to an easement by necessity, the claimant must show that the land patent reserved an easement or that the government otherwise intended to reserve an easement.
Facts: Before 1876, the federal government owned property in what is now Mendocino County, California. Between 1876 and 1929, it deeded contiguous parcels by patent to various owners. Those parcels (the Burch property) are now owned by the RMB Revocable Family Trust; the trustees are defendants Roger Burch and Michele Burch. In 1932, the federal government conveyed four parcels to John Bridges. These parcels (the Murphy property) are now owned by the Murphy Children Education Trust; the trustee is defendant Cheryl C. Murphy.

The Burch property borders the north side of California State Highway 162, but the Murphy property, located north of the Burch property, is landlocked. There is an access road that runs from Highway 162 across the Burch property and onto the Murphy property. Murphy sued for quiet title to an easement along the portion of the access road that crosses the Burch property. None of the land patents reserved an easement over the access road or expressly g[..]


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