Community Feed Store v. Northeastern Culvert Corp.

Case Name: Community Feed Store, Inc. v. Northeastern Culvert Corp.

Key Facts: Community Feed Store operates a small wholesale and retail animal feed business. Defendant, Northeastern Culvert Corp. is a neighboring business.

At issue is a parcel of land to the north of the plaintiff’s principal building (approximately 60 x 90 feet), covered with gravel. 28 feet of this is owned by the plaintiff, the rest is owned by the defendant. The plaintiff’s suppliers and customers used this area for loading and unloading.

Defendant purchased its land in 1956 but was not until 1984, after a new survey, that it was established that the bulk of the gravel area actually belonged to the defendant. The defendant then erected a barrier to prevent cars and trucks to use this area for loading and unloading. Plaintiff filed for declaration of a prescriptive easement.
The trial court concluded that the plaintiff’s claim of a prescriptive easement failed for two reasons:
1. Plaintiff failed to prove with sufficient particularity the width and length of the easement
2. Any use of the area in question by the plaintiff or its customers was made with the permission of the fee owner. (through public use)

Procedural History: The trial court rejected the claim and entered judgment for the defendant on its counterclaim for ejectment. Plaintiff appealed. Appellate Court found that the trial court erred in making two findings of fact.

Plaintiff met its burden by establishing the general outlines of the easement with reasonable certainty. The plaintiff did not need to establish the minute details of the interest. The plaintiff established that adverse use began no later than 1929 and lasted until at least 1956. There was no showing that the defendant had opened his land to public use.