The Plaintiff Dolnikov had a recorded easement for ingress and egress to two undeveloped lots. She was attempting to develop her lots with a house on each lot which required the improvement of the easement with a better driveway, including grading and the construction of a retaining wall. The owners of the adjoining lots which were burdened by the easement refused to sign documents required by the local building department before permits could be issued. The defendant lot owners demanded a $ 1M insurance policy naming them, objected to the width of the driveway and demanded that the retaining wall be build to their specifications for width, depth and paing. Dolnikov sued.
The trial court ordered the lot owners to sign the necessary forms relating to the work and enjoined them from interfering with the easement and construction. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the refusal to sign was in no way justified by the needs of the servient estate, that the Defendants had no development plans for their lots, and that the grading and retaining walls made the easement passable and benefitted Defendant’s property. Defendants’ refusal to sign the documents interfered with Dolnikov’s ability to maintain and repair her easement.
Dolnikov vs. Ekizian (2013) 222 CA 4th 419