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153979 - Marlette Auto Wash v Van Dyke SC Properties

Marlette Auto Wash, LLC,
Gaetan Gerville-Reache
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Sanilac – Teeple, D.)
Van Dyke SC Properties, LLC,
David A. Keyes


In this property dispute between two adjacent businesses, customers of plaintiff Marlette Auto Wash used a shopping center parking lot to access the car wash. When defendant Van Dyke Properties purchased the shopping center, it asked plaintiff to contribute to parking lot maintenance and insurance. Plaintiff claimed it had a prescriptive easement created by the open, notorious, adverse, and continuous use of the parking lot property for at least fifteen years by the prior owners of the car wash, which allowed plaintiff’s customers to continue using the shopping center parking lot for egress and ingress to the car wash. Plaintiff argued that its prescriptive easement claim was supported by the fact that the owner of Van Dyke Properties built the car wash and, at that time, began using the parking lot as an entrance. The circuit court granted plaintiff’s prescriptive easement claim and denied defendant’s counterclaim to quiet title and for damages. On appeal, the Court of Appeals issued an unpublished per curiam opinion that affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for entry of a judgment in the defendant’s favor. The Court of Appeals held that the circuit court erred in granting plaintiff a prescriptive easement because plaintiff failed to establish privity of estate between it and the car wash’s prior owner. The Court of Appeals concluded that a prescriptive easement did not vest with plaintiff based on the continuous, open, notorious, and adverse use by a prior owner, even if that use was for at least fifteen years, because the prior owner did not take action to claim a prescriptive easement. The Supreme Court has granted leave to address whether open, notorious, adverse, and continuous use of property for at least fifteen years creates a prescriptive easement that is an easement appurtenant, without regard to whether the owner of the dominant estate took legal action to claim the easement.