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Estate of Thomson v. Wade

Citation. 509 N.E.2d 309 (N.Y. 1987)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled that a valid interest for a third party does not exist, when a deed appears to create an easement in a third party who is a stranger to the deed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An interest is deemed invalid when a deed appears to create an easement in a third party who is a stranger to the deed.


In 1945, Edward John Nobel owned a tract of land and separated them into two pieces of land by conveying the first parcel known as the annex parcel. The second parcel of land, is situated in between the public road and the annex parcel. Nobel conveyed the first property as is with no special covenants. But, when he conveyed the second parcel of land known as the land in between the main road and the annex parcel, he reserved for himself and the owner of the annex parcel a right of way easement. Eventually the Nobel foundation inherited the right of way. Soon after, Graham Thomson (Plaintiff) inherited the annex parcel and a Judith Wade (Defendant) inherited the other piece of land. Thomson utilized the right of way more often because he had built a 50 room motel which required the patrons of the hotel to use the right of way often. The Nobel Foundation conveyed their interest in the right of way to Thomson hindering Wade’s ability to stop the increased traffic on the right of way. Thomson brought suit for a declaratory judgment arguing that he possessed an express easement. The trial court did not find in his favor and now he appeals.


When a stranger to a deed is given an easement on the property, is the interest deemed valid? 


No. A valid interest does not exist because without an ascertainable person the property interest would promote uncertainty contradicting the longstanding property rule which promotes certainty in property interests. Ultimately, the Court notes the easement created on the second parcel of land was deemed to be invalid because it was uncertain who would receive the property leaving uncertainty and violating the long standing rule. 


The Court notes that there are several minority jurisdictions which allow third party interests in property. 

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