Paul represented eleven people who owned six homes in a subdivision in Plymouth near the Wayzata high school. The subdivision was created in the 1980s when Plymouth was mostly farm fields and rural area. Plymouth has changed significantly. The subdivision consists of fifteen lots and has two private roads that provide the only access to the neighborhood. Each homeowner has a right-of-way easement—a legal right to use someone else’s land for a particular purpose.
Paul’s clients have been trying to sell their land to a developer for years. But to make a development project economically viable, a developer needs to relocate the portions of the private roads that run through Paul’s clients’ properties. Neighbors that are opposed to any development refused to consent to any relocation of private roads and claimed that unanimous consent was required under the law. Paul’s clients disagreed and brought a declaratory judgment action in Hennepin County.
During two years of contentious litigation, Paul successfully convinced the Judge that Minnesota adopts the “modern rule,” allowing for unilateral relocation of an easement so long as certain conditions are satisfied: (1) the relocation is done at no cost to the objectors; (2) it does not significantly lessen the utility of the easement; (3) it does not increase the burdens on the use and enjoyment of the easement; and (4) it does not frustrate the purpose for which the easement was created. At trial, Paul proved the developer’s plan met those conditions. Paul’s clients can now sell their land for its highest market value without interference from their neighbors.