Easement By Necessity

Ammons Properties, LLC v. Spraggins, [Ms. SC-2022-0821, May 19, 2023] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Mitchell, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mendheim, JJ., concur) affirms the Madison Circuit Court’s bench verdict ruling that Andrew Spraggins had an easement across Ammons Properties, LLC’s (“Ammons”) property and denying Ammons’s tort counterclaims.

The Court first rejects Ammons’s argument that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. A probate court has exclusive jurisdiction under § 18-3-3, Ala. Code 1975, to condemn a right-of-way over adjoining property. Ms. *6. However, “[b]ecause Spraggins sought legal recognition of an existing easement and not the condemnation of a new right-of-way, § 18-3-3 did not restrict jurisdiction over the action to the probate court.” Ms. *7.

The Court also rejected the contention that a prior foreclosure extinguished the easement. “[A]n easement encumbers the servient, not the dominant, tenement. … Accordingly, for a foreclosure to extinguish an easement, the foreclosed property must be the servient tenement. Here, the easement consisted of a right-of-way over the northern tract, which was thus the servient tenement. Therefore, foreclosure of the mortgage on the middle tract did not extinguish the easement.” Ms. **11-12.

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