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Judge rules landowner can deny access to easement – Motion to strike granted

In this case for injunctive relief, the plaintiff and defendant, who are brother and sister, had been deeded certain tracts of land. One tract, deeded to the plaintiff, contained the old family home in which the parties’ mother reserved a life estate. All tracts had access to the main road via an old farm road, which had existed since at least the 1920s. In 1997, the defendant sought to have timber cut from one of his tracts of land. The timber company would not use the old farm road, and the defendant obtained a non-exclusive easement across plaintiff’s land to access the timber. Plaintiff also quitclaimed a narrow strip of land between the easement and the tract on which the farmhouse was situated.

When the timber company ceased operations, it graded the road in the easement area, and laid gravel, all at defendant’s expense. Defendant allowed his mother to cross the narrow strip of land quitclaimed to him by the plaintiff in order to access the newer gravel road contained within the easement area from the farmhouse. The parties’ mother passed away in November 2013, and a tenant residing in the old farmhouse began crossing defendant’s land to access the gravel road without his permission.

Plaintiff sought injunctive relief to enjoin defendant from blocking access from the farmhouse to the gravel road, alleging that he had placed substantial impediments within the easement area. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking to enjoin plaintiff and her tenants, etc., from trespassing over his land to access the gravel road.

At trial, the court granted defendant’s motion to strike plaintiff’s complaint for injunction; and granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, perpetually enjoining the plaintiff and her tenants, etc., from trespassing over defendant’s land to access the gravel road within the easement area. There was no evidence that the defendant had done anything to block anyone’s access for over a year before trial. However, there was ample evidence that plaintiff and others were continually trespassing on defendant’s land.


Type of action: Injunctive relief
Injuries alleged: Obstruction of access to easement and trespass
Name of case: Banton v. Simpson
Court: Pittsylvania County Circuit Court
Case no.: CL13000460-00
Tried before: Judge
Judge: James J. Reynolds
Date resolved: July 10, 2015
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Attorney for plaintiff: David W. Shreve, Altavista
Attorneys for defendant: Seth C. Elmore, Chatham; Christopher L. Daughtry, Virginia Beach

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