A pair of neighbors feuding over an easement and a fence for the past four years, have whittled their dispute down to a small five-foot wide strip of land.
The plaintiff’s property in the Town of Chazy has a gravel path running along its northern side, which plaintiff uses to access to her carriage house and fuel port by vehicle. The plaintiff alleged that the neighbors, defendants, built a fence that “encroached 15 feet onto [her] property, effectively partition[ing] off a portion of [her] lawn and [the] gravel path.” Plaintiff sued to quiet title to this area. The parties entered into a stipulation of settlement that outlined the common boundary line and in which defendants promised to grant “a perpetual easement to plaintiff to run with the lands along the existing gravel driveway” so that plaintiff could access the carriage house. Defendants also promised to grant a perpetual easement to the plaintiff to maintain a vegetative area between the existing gravel driveway and the common boundary. For consideration, the plaintiff was to pay defendants $4,500.00. Once paid, the defendants were to remove the fence within 30 days.
An issue then arose as to the width of the vegetative area and how to describe it in the settlement agreement. The court directed that the parties use a linear measurement of five feet in width and ordered the parties to comply with the agreement. The defendants then appealed.
The Appellate Division, Third Department, the court erred “by injecting a term into the stipulation to which the parties did not agree — namely a five-foot linear measurement — impermissibly extend[ing] the scope of the stipulation, and vacated the order. On remittal, the defendants requested a jury trial.
The plaintiff’s then moved to strike the demand for a jury trial and defendants made a cross-motion to void the portion of the stipulation pertaining to the vegetative area or to void the stipulation altogether and schedule a trial.
The court refused to void the stipulation, finding that it was clearly a material part of the parties’ agreement. And because the defendants had previously entered into the stipulation on the record in open courts, the court found the defendants waived their right to a jury trial.
Samonek v. Pratt, 2015 NY Slip Op. 50563(U) (Sup Ct, Clinton County 2015).