MN Court Construes "40 Year Law" For Recording Easements

Minnesota case law summary: Easements, recording.

Sampair v. Village of Birchwood. MN easements, recordation.

The owners of a parcel of property subject to easements applied for Torrens title in 2007. Minn. Stat. 541.023 required easement owners to record, within 40 years of the creation of easement, a notice of claim. In the absence of such notice, the easement is conclusively presumed to be abandoned. No notice had ever been filed in this case.

The holders of the easement relied on language in the statute providing an exception for those in possession.

The Minnesota Supreme Court, Gildea, C.J., held that to fall within this exception, the possession by the easement holder must be sufficient to put a prudent person on notice of the asserted interest. To the extent that this holding was inconsistent, the Court overruled its earlier decision in Caroga Realty Co. v. Tapper, 274 Minn. 164, 143 N.W.2d 215 (1966).

The Court further held that to establish this exception, the possession must have begun "at the deadline for filing notice under the MTA--i.e., within 40 years of when the property interest was created--and continuing through the filing of the relevant action regarding ownership." The burden of proof is upon the holder of the easement.

Nos. A08-1494, A08-1505, 784 N.W.2d 65 (Minn. July 8, 2010).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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