Cochran v Hoffman (IN)

Summary:  A right of way easement without further limiting language includes the right to park.   

Cochran v Hoffman, 971 NE2d 670 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012).

Facts:  Dennis and Sandra Cochran owned a landlocked tract of real estate (Cochran property). Dennis and Sandra lived with their son Jeremy and his wife (collectively “Cochrans”).  Because the Cochran property was landlocked, the Cochrans had an easement across the adjoining property (Hoffman property) owned by Zeroffos Hoffman (Hoffman). The Cochrans parked their vehicles on the easement. John Dye (Dye), who lived on the Hoffman property, towed one of the Cochrans’ vehicles, which had been partially parked on the easement. 

Hoffman and Dye then filed an action against the Cochrans in small claims court; the Cochrans filed a counterclaim for conversion. The court found that the easement was for the limited purpose of ingress and egress and therefore the Cochrans were not allowed to park their car on the easement. Therefore, the court also rejected the Cochrans’ conversion claim.  Dennis and Jeremy filed a motion to correct error with the small claims court. The motion was denied, and Dennis and Jeremy filed a notice of appeal.

Holding:  Reversed in part and affirmed in part. The language of the easement gave a “right of way of the width of sixteen feet for all purposes of travel.” The easement had no language limiting it to ingress and egress, which has been held to exclude the right to park. The court of appeals held that the easement was a right of way easement, and the a right of way easement without restrictions must be construed broadly enough to allow any use that is reasonable connected with the reasonable use of the land. The court held that this meant that when the easement was a general right of way, parking was not prohibited.

Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 3:22pm