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Urbaitis v. Commonwealth Edison

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.143 Ill. 2d 458, 159 Ill. Dec. 50, 575 N.E.2d 548 (1991)

Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs sued to quiet title to a strip of land, which was formerly used as a railway, but was no longer being used for such purpose.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The mere use of the descriptive words “right of way,” without more, is insufficient to create an easement when the clear intent of the parties is to convey a fee simple title.

Facts. Plaintiffs, a group of landowners whose property is directly abutting the land in question, and the Commonwealth Edison (Defendant), claim title to a strip of land formerly used as a railway under the same conveyance from Dodson to the Chicago, Wheaton and Western Railway in 1909. The strip of land is approximately 100 feet wide and 2,713 feet long. The Plaintiffs own residences next to the strip of land and allege that they have improved the land with gardens and lawn ornaments. Plaintiffs brought this action to quiet title to the strip of land based on the contention that Dodson conveyed the strip of land to the railway company only as an easement for purposes of building a railway and that the easement was abandoned in 1946 when the strip of land ceased being used for such purposes. In the alternative, Plaintiffs allege that when the strip of land ceased being used for railway purposes, the land reverted to Dodson’s heirs, who then deeded their interest to Plaintiffs. The D
efendant contends that Dodson conveyed an estate in fee simple to the railway company in 1909. Therefore, Defendant has the title in fee simple and has the power to grant a perpetual easement to the Forest Preserve District.

Issue. Did the original deed from Dodson to the Defendant convey an easement or a fee simple?

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