Legal Memorandum: Determination of the Extent of an Easement

Issue: Under Missouri law, how does the court determine the extent of an easement?

Area of Law: Real Estate Law
Keywords: Easement; Extent
Jurisdiction: Missouri
Cited Cases: 633 S.W.2d 274; 337 S.W.2d 444
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2001

           In determining the extent of an easement, the language of the easement agreement should control.  Where the language of the agreement is clear and unambiguous, the agreement is not subject to judicial interpretation by consideration of extrinsic evidence concerning the parties’ intentions as to the extent of the easement. Karches v. Adolph Investment Corp., 429 S.W.2d 788 (Mo. Ct. App. 1968).  

The Meinhardt case, 575 S.W.2d 213, indicates the type of evidence a court should consider. The Meinhardt court, in addition to finding that the conveyed property had fourteen times more road frontage that the property retained by the seller, also noted that the parties had conceded that an entrance to the conveyed property could be constructed from the county road. 575 S.W.2d at 216. The court also noted that the purchaser of the conveyed property was likely to establish permanent improvements and it was reasonable to believe that the construction would include separate entrances, especially in light of the fact that the purchaser knew at the time of the sale that it did not own the access road and the deed to the property did not contain a grant of the dirt road. Id.

Many courts have addressed the issue of decreased value of property as the result of granting an easement. See, e.g., Kamo Electric Cooperative v. Brooks, 337 S.W.2d 444 (Mo. Ct. App. 1960). The Kamo court overturned a lower courts decision to allow “looks” to be considered […]

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