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State Ex Rel. Thornton v. Hay

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.254 Or. 584, 462 P.2d 671 (1969)

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The public can acquire an easement in the land of another through either an easement by prescription or established custom.  An easement by prescription must be uninterrupted open, notorious, and hostile for the statutory period.  The elements of custom are (1) the custom must be ancient; (2) must be exercised without interruption; (3) use must be peaceable; (4) use must be appropriate to the land and community; ( 5) area must have visible boundaries; (6) obligatory; and (7) must not be inconsistent with other customs. 

Facts. Defendants Hay owned a tourist facility on Cannon Beach and wanted to erect a fence around the beach area adjacent to their property for the enjoyment of their guests.  Specifically, they wanted to enclose the dry-sand area that is between the high-tide line and the vegetation line – the area where beach-goers typically lounge to escape the wet sand and tide.  The State sought a decree to enjoin defendants from building such fence.  The trial court ruled in favor of the State, finding that the public had acquired over the years an easement for recreational purposes to enjoy the dry-sand area.  The Supreme Court of Oregon affirmed under the doctrine of custom.

Issue. Whether the State has the power to prevent landowners from enclosing the dry-sand area contained within the legal description of their ocean-front property.

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