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Holbrook v. Taylor

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Brief Fact Summary. The Appellants, Mr. and Mrs Holbrook (Appellant), sued to enforce a license by estoppel regarding a road he used for egress and ingress to his property. Holbrook constructed a house at considerable expense and also made repairs to the road in question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A license by estoppel can be created by licensor’s consent, along with the licensee’s construction of various structures and repair to the land in question.

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

An easement is created in this manner when the owner of a tenement to which the right is claimed to be appurtenant, or those under whom he claims title, have openly, peaceably, continuously, and under a claim of right adverse to the owner of the soil and with his knowledge and acquiescence, used the way for as much as 15 years.

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Facts. In 1964, the Appellees, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor (Appellees), bought a three-acre site, adjoining the Appellants land. The Appellees used a road the Appellants created to gain access to a public road during the following year by permission of the Appellants. Further, the Appellees repaired and made considerable improvements to the road. The Appellees claim use of the road by estoppel and by prescription. The trial court found use by estoppel of the road was justified, but not use by prescription.

Issue. Whether the Appellees had a license by prescription or estoppel regarding a road they used for ingress and egress from their home.

Held. Affirmed. The use of the roadway with the consent of the Appellants, general improvements to the road and construction of the house on the land, creates a license by estoppel and cannot be revoked.
Where a license is not a bare right of entry, but includes the right to erect structures and acquire an interest in the land in the nature of an easement by the construction of improvements, the licensor may not revoke the license after the licensee has erected improvements at considerable expense. .

Discussion. The court discussed several case precedents regarding license by estoppel. In the end the court analogized the current case to Lashley Telephone Co. v. Durbin, 190 Ky. 792 (Ky. 1921). In Lashley, the Plaintiffs had done considerable work to maintain the road, which gave them the right to use of the road by estoppel, but not by prescription.

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