Abington Ltd. Partnership v. Heublein – Case Brief Summary (Connecticut)

In Abington Ltd. Partnership v. Heublein, 246 Conn. 815, 717 A.2d 1232 (1998) the court decided that the Restatement, which adopted a "contracts oriented view of the law of easements and servitudes" Abington Ltd. Partnership, supra, at 830, "makes the intentions or the reasonable expectations of the parties the overarching consideration in the construction of a servitude. . ." Id., at 831.

The court acknowledged that if the principles of Restatement § 4.1 (providing guidance for the interpretation of servitudes according to the intentions of the parties) do not fully apply, then the supplemental principles of this portion of the Restatement are to be used to decide cases. Restatement § 4.11 is the one of those sub-sections which closely applies in the instant case: "Appurtenant Easement or Profit Limited to Serving Dominant Estate. 'The beneficiary of an appurtenant easement or profit is not entitled to use the servient estate for the benefit of property other than the dominant estate.'"

The Abington Ltd. Partnership court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, for reasons unrelated to its analysis of the law of easements. The Connecticut Supreme Court provided instruction to the trial court, to facilitate retrial, on the meaning of Carbone v. Vigliotti and the relevant Restatement provisions.

The Court explained Carbone v. Vigliotti, 222 Conn. 216, 610 A.2d 565 (1992), and clarified that in Carbone v. Vigliotti:

"we did not hold that an easement of access attaches automatically to after-acquired property. Indeed we did not challenge the general rule that the default position is to the contrary. . . . In Carbone, we also recognized, however, that, in some circumstances, the parties at the time of the creation of an easement may be found to have contemplated, as a matter of law, that its benefits might accrue to adjacent property that was not formally within the terms of the easement. . . . The nub of our holding was to reject a bright-line rule that permitting adjacent after-acquired property to benefit from an easement of access automatically constitutes an overburden or misuse of the easement. . . . We adopted instead the principle that the construction of an easement requires inquiry into the intent of the parties when the easement was created. . ." Id., at 829-830.

The Court clarified its prior holding in Carbone.

There, the court explained that it "did not hold that an easement of access attaches automatically to after-acquired property. . . . We also recognized, however, that, in some circumstances, the parties at the time of the creation of an easement may be found to have contemplated, as a matter of law, that its benefits might accrue to adjacent property that was not formally within the terms of the easement. . . . To determine that intent . . . a court reasonably may take into account the proposed use and the likely development of the dominant estate." Id.