Smiley First, LLC v. Dep't of TransportationAnnotate this Case
In this case considering whether an easement (2018 easement) taken by eminent domain by the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) exceeded the scope of an easement taken in 1991 by the Department of Public Works (DPW), MassDOT's predecessor in interest, with respect to Plaintiff's land in South Boston (burdened land), the Supreme Judicial Court held that summary judgment was improperly granted for MassDOT.
DPW's 1991 order of taking created an easement over the burdened land for purposes of constructing a haul road. In 2017, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began planning the construction of a test track on a portion of Plaintiff's land burdened by the 1991 easement. MassDOT recorded the 2018 confirmatory order of taking and then, contending that the taking merely confirmed that rights it held under the 1991 taking, refused to pay Plaintiff any compensation. Plaintiff responded with this litigation, and the superior court judge entered summary judgment in favor of MassDOT. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) while the intent of the parties should not be considered when an easement is taken by eminent domain, the ordinary rules of interpretation for easements otherwise apply; and (2) because the 1991 easement was more limited in scope than the 2018 easement, summary judgment for MassDOT must be reversed.