February 02, 2017 Article

Taylor v. Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission: Old Habits Die Hard

Rightly or wrongly decided, this Massachusetts case poses one primary benefit: clarity

by Nicholas P. Shapiro

The principle of “overloading” in property law provides that an easement can only be used for the benefit of land to which it is appurtenant, and not for previously or after acquired property. A handful of courts around the country have taken steps to lessen the harsh effects of this formalistic doctrine, and in early 2015, I wrote an article in this publication about this doctrine and increased flexibility in its application. However, in the recent case of Taylor v. Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission, 475 Mass. 682 (Oct. 11, 2016), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) (the highest court in Massachusetts) rejected this trend toward flexibility. My office authored an amicus brief filed in Taylor, advocating for a modest exception to overloading—this position did not carry the day in aylor.

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