Stoner v. Zucker


Plaintiff originally gave defendant permission to enter his land and built a ditch to carry irrigation water to his own land.  Defendant spent $7,000 on this endeavor.  Plaintiff contends he only gave defendant a “revocable license.”  Plaintiff argued that he didn’t know the ditch was to divert water from his land to their own and wanted to revoke the agreement.

Defendant disregarded the revocation and continuously entering plaintiff’s land to repair and maintain the ditch.  Plaintiff sued for trespass and sought enjoinment from use of the ditch.  Plaintiff argued that a license is itself revocable in its very nature at any time.


Whether there is “revocability of an executed parole license, whose execution has involved the expenditure of money, and where, from the very nature of the license given, it was to be continuous in use.”


No, there is no revocability.  Held.  “The recognized principle, therefore, is that where a licensee has entered under a parole license and has expended money, or its equivalent in labor, in the execution of the license, the license becomes irrevocable, the licensee will have a right of entry upon the lands of the licensor for the purpose of maintaining his structures or, in general, his rights under his license, and the license will continue for so long a time as the nature of it calls for.”  The same principle applies to land leased for mill timber.  The land is used until the purposes of the lease – to gather enough timber from the land as can support the mill – are complete.  In this case, the defendant has right to enter the land and this right cannot be revoked because defendant has expended his labor and money on the endeavor.

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