South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Public Easement on Private Property Does Not Mean Loss of Ownership
Description Appeals court held that a private party had no right to enter on a public easement and remove soil from it. The easement, on private property, was for public benefit and did not give private parties the right to make use of the property.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Trespass; Easement
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Gleasons sued Taub for trespass on their private property for using a bulldozer to remove 16,000 cubic feet of dirt for use on another property for construction purposes. The land in question is subject to a public drainage easement. The Gleasons claim that Taubís actions damaged them by adversely affecting their visual enjoyment of the property and has shortened the life of their trees. Taub defended that he has right to enter the easement and remove dirt because his action improved the flow of water through the easement. The trial court held for Taub. The Gleasons appealed.

Reversed and remanded. The Gleasons have a right to make a claim. Taub had no right to enter their property. The public drainage easement is for the benefit of the public, but the fee remained with the owner of the land, the Gleasons. The possession and control of the surface of the easement is surrendered to the public, but ownership is not surrendered. Taub, as a private citizen acting on his own, has no right to enter on the easement and change it. Even if his actions were consistent with the purpose of the easement, he had no right to enter and change the land.

Citation Gleason v. Taub, ---S.W.3d--- (2005 WL 2689374, Ct. App., Tx., 2005)

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