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Varnum Wins for Client on Appeal of Lakefront Property Prescriptive Easement Matter

February 14, 2024

A lakefront property owner who lost a lawsuit by his neighbors when they claimed they had a right to keep their dock on his property received some satisfaction recently when the trial court order was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Varnum represented the Defendant property owner in the matter.

The Defendant discovered that his neighbor’s dock infringed on his bottomlands seven years after he purchased the property in 2013. When he asked that the dock be removed, the neighbors filed a lawsuit claiming title to the property through adverse possession and alternatively claimed a right to the bottomlands by a prescriptive easement. The Oakland County Circuit Court granted summary disposition to the Plaintiffs, ruling that the matter satisfied the requirements for a prescriptive easement, including that the dock was in the same location for at least 15 years.

Using aerial photographs and other evidence, Varnum partner Brad Defoe was able to show that the Plaintiffs had indeed moved the dock within the 15-year time frame and thus did not meet the requirement for a prescriptive easement. The appellate panel reversed the trial court’s order and returned the matter to Oakland County to determine if the Defendant is entitled to additional relief.

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