Dault v. ShawAnnotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court in this matter centered on the doctrine of adverse possession and whether the presumption that a private drive across another's property was a permissive use and did not give rise to an easement. The presumption does not apply where a drive was not originally established by the other's property owner for his or her own use. Appellee Edward Shaw owned two lots of land; Appellants James Dault and Shala Dobson owned a non-adjacent parcel in the same subdivision. Shaw used a trail as access to his parcel. The trial crossed several parcels, including that owned by Dault and Dobson. Dault built a shed on his property where the trail had been. Shaw's house was not then occupied. When Shaw’s brother, Michael, discovered that a driveway was being constructed, he asked Dault about the project. Dault assured Michael that the new driveway would provide safer access to Shaw's property, but Michael expressed concern over the lack of a Borough permit. During a subsequent conversation, Dault said that he did not believe that he needed a Borough permit. Michael had by then discovered the grantor easements on some of the lots, including his brother's, and based on them, told Dault to remove the obstruction from the trail. After consideration of the parties various land interests and the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded that the presumption of a private drive as permissive use and did not give rise to an easement applied in this case because the drive at issue was constructed by the original subdivision developers for their own use. The Court concluded the trial court erred in finding that Shaw had a prescriptive easement to use the portion of the trial crossing Dault's lot.