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Cooper v. Boise Church of Christ

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Brief Fact Summary.

The Supreme Court of Idaho ruled that a written agreement between two parties although written as an easement, the writing represents a license. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Parties subject to a written agreement that actually resembles an easement will be deemed a license if both parties intended to convey a license at the time of the written agreement. 

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

In order to establish a private prescriptive easement, a claimant must present reasonably clear and convincing proof of open, notorious, continuous, and uninterrupted use under a claim of right and with the knowledge of the owner of the servient tenement for the prescriptive period of five years.

View Full Point of Law

In 1957 the Adamses created a written document between themselves and the Boise Church of Christ (Defendant). The document was actually an easement to allow the church to erect a sign to advertise the church on the Adamses property in consideration of one dollar. The Adamses failed to make full payment of the house and the property passed to Betty Cooper (Plaintiff). After acquiring the house, Plaintiff sought injunctive relief to have the sign removed. Trial Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff. Defendant argues they possess an express easement and if not have obtained an easement by prescription. Defendant appeals. 


If the parties between a written document intended to convey a license but the document itself is an easement, did the agreement convey a license? 


Yes. The court views the intent of the parties as the important factor in determining the case. Furthermore, the Court determined that the Adamses did not have complete rights to convey an easement since they did not pay the house in full. The Court also rejects the easement by prescription because that is only obtained when land is utilized without consent of the owner while here, the Church technically did have permission to use the land. Trial Court Affirmed. 


The Court notes the Adamses could not covey an easement to the Defendant since they did not fully possess the land due to a failure of payment. However, the court notes in its’ argument that the Adamses were able to give permission to the Church to use the land.

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