Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Marian Baker, Trustee of the Marian B. Baker Trust (“Baker”), for an easement over a logging road (“Alexanna Lane”) that crossed the property of KAL, LLC (“KAL”). Initially there were claims involving John and Vickie Stadler (the “Stadlers”), and Jose Melendreras and Jacqueline Diaz-Melendreras (the “Melendrerases”). However, the appeal here involved only the claims between Baker and KAL. In February of 2015 Baker filed a complaint to quiet title against KAL, the Stadlers and the Melendrerases to extinguish an easement on the Baker Property. The Stadlers answered Baker’s complaint and asserted claims against Baker and the Melendrerases to quiet title and for common law trespass. The Stadlers noted that access to the Baker Property was intended to run through the Melendreras Property, not through the KAL Property or the Stadler Property. Baker filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to Count I and Count II of the Stadlers’ counterclaim, asserting that she was entitled to use Alexanna Lane to access her property because: (1) a statutory easement was created pursuant to Idaho Code section 55-603; (2) the 1999 deed intended to create and describe the easement; (3) an implied easement existed; (4) an easement by necessity existed because there was no other access to a public road; and (5) there was an easement by prescription. The Stadlers opposed Baker’s motion for summary judgment, asserting that there was no easement created that allowed Baker to access Alexanna Lane. Amidst these disputes KAL filed an answer and counterclaim to Baker’s complaint, asserting that Baker had no legal right to travel across the KAL Property; KAL maintained the 1999 deed was ambiguous, and the language did not reserve an easement that ultimately Baker claimed she held. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s determination of the meaning of the easement language in the deed, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Baker v. KAL, LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Marian Baker, Trustee of the Marian B. Baker Trust (“Baker”), for an easement over a logging road (“Alexanna Lane”) that crossed the property of KAL, LLC (“KAL”). Initially there were claims involving John and Vickie Stadler (the “Stadlers”), and Jose Melendreras and Jacqueline Diaz-Melendreras (the “Melendrerases”). However, the appeal here involved only the claims between Baker and KAL. In February of 2015 Baker filed a complaint to quiet title against KAL, the Stadlers and the Melendrerases to extinguish an easement on the Baker Property. The Stadlers answered Baker’s complaint and asserted claims against Baker and the Melendrerases to quiet title and for common law trespass. The Stadlers noted that access to the Baker Property was intended to run through the Melendreras Property, not through the KAL Property or the Stadler Property. Baker filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to Count I and Count II of the Stadlers’ counterclaim, asserting that she was entitled to use Alexanna Lane to access her property because: (1) a statutory easement was created pursuant to Idaho Code section 55-603; (2) the 1999 deed intended to create and describe the easement; (3) an implied easement existed; (4) an easement by necessity existed because there was no other access to a public road; and (5) there was an easement by prescription. The Stadlers opposed Baker’s motion for summary judgment, asserting that there was no easement created that allowed Baker to access Alexanna Lane. Amidst these disputes KAL filed an answer and counterclaim to Baker’s complaint, asserting that Baker had no legal right to travel across the KAL Property; KAL maintained the 1999 deed was ambiguous, and the language did not reserve an easement that ultimately Baker claimed she held. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s determination of the meaning of the easement language in the deed, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Baker v. KAL, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellants Glen and Cheryl Nielson (the “Nielsons”), challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents Robert and Michele Talbot (the “Talbots”) and Paul and Saundra Parker (the “Parkers”). The Parkers and Talbots were neighbors. The Parkers sold their property to the Nielsons by warranty deed. Shortly after purchasing the property, the Nielsons filed a complaint against the Talbots arguing that, according to the legal description in the warranty deed, the Talbots’ shed, carport, and driveway extended over the property line and onto the Nielsons’ property. The Nielsons also filed a complaint against the Parkers arguing that the Parkers were obligated to defend the title of the property that they had sold. The two cases were consolidated and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Talbots and the Parkers. Finding only that the district court erred by dismissing the Nielsons’ claim for breach of warranty, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. The Court remanded the case so that the district court could enter a "proper judgment" that sufficiently described the altered property line. View "Nielson v. Talbot" on Justia Law

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Edgar and Laurie Cook owned 200 acres of property in Bonner County, Idaho. The Property included Bloom Lake, a cabin, and a campground. The Cooks allowed people to use the lake and campground without charging a fee, but they solicited voluntary donations to help with the Property’s upkeep. Approximately twenty years ago, Michael Chisholm asked the Cooks if he could stay in the cabin in exchange for maintaining the Property. They agreed, and Chisholm began caring for the Property. In 2015, Joseph Stanczak and his girlfriend were camping at the Property. Chisholm invited them into the cabin, and a dispute later arose between Chisholm and Stanczak. Chisholm shot Stanczak twice with a .45 caliber handgun, then left the scene. Authorities later apprehended Chisholm and charged him with Aggravated Battery and Use of a Deadly Weapon in Commission of a Felony. Chisholm entered an Alford plea, by which he pleaded guilty without admitting guilt as to all the elements of the crimes. He was sentenced to prison. At issue in this was was the interpretation of the insuring clause of a bodily injury liability provision in a property insurance contract. The insurer, Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho, determined it had no duty to defend or indemnify the Cooks because the shooting was not a covered act under the policy. Farm Bureau filed a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial confirmation of its determination. Farm Bureau then filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the district court find as a matter of law that the intentional shooting was not an “occurrence.” The district court granted Farm Bureau’s motion. Finding no reversible error in the district court's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Farm Bureau. View "Farm Bureau Ins v. Cook" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review centered on whether and to what extent an uphill landowner could send irrigation wastewater across a downhill landowner’s property. This case began when Lemhi County filed suit against the owners of both ranches seeking to relieve flooding along one of its roads. Phillip Moulton owned and operated a ranch that was on higher ground than the adjacent ranch that Verdell Olson operated. Surface and irrigation water that began on Moulton’s ranch made its way to the Lemhi River through various channels. The one at issue in this case was a steep draw that sent water across a county road and through the downhill ranch that Olson operated. Lemhi County reached a settlement with Olson, and the remaining issue for the district court was whether an easement or a natural servitude permitted Moulton to send water down the draw. The district court held that both an easement and natural servitude permit Moulton to send up to 3.25 cubic feet per second of water down the draw. Olson appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court to the extent it provided for an easement and natural servitude, but remanded for specification of the location of the drainage basin on Olson’s property. View "Olson v. Moulton" on Justia Law

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Ricky and Kimberly Holden appealed an order granting a water right to their neighbors Jackie and Teresa Weece. . In 1999, the Holdens constructed a well on a portion of their property (Lot 17) and obtained a licensed water right. In 2000, the Holdens built a residence on another portion of their property (Lot 16) which included a sewage disposal system connected to the well. In 2001 the Holdens sold Lot 16 to a friend, Loree Saunders. As an accommodation for the sale, the Holdens and Saunders entered into a joint well use agreement allowing Saunders to utilize the well on the Holden’s property. Later, in 2001, Saunders’s lender bank foreclosed Lot 16. The Weeces acquired Lot 16 from the lender in 2005. The Holdens and the Weeces continued to follow the joint well use agreement to provide water to Lot 16; however, a dispute arose in 2015 regarding the Weeces use of such water. The Holdens claimed the district court erred in adopting the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained within a special master’s Report and Recommendation and that the priority date of the Weeces’ water right, recommended by the special master and adopted by the district court, was clearly erroneous. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order. View "Holden v. Weece" on Justia Law

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This case addressed whether the issuance of a tax deed extinguished a prescriptive easement across a parcel of land by operation of former Idaho Code section 63-1009. The Owens purchased a small parcel of land (“the Orphan Parcel”) from Kootenai County after a tax sale. A dispute arose as to whether the Regans had the right to drive across the Orphan Parcel. The Regans sued the Owens to reform the tax deed to include an express easement and to establish a prescriptive easement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Regans, ruling that the Owens’ deed contained a mutual mistake and should be reformed to reflect an express easement that the original grantors intended. The Owens appealed and the Idaho Supreme Court held that the deed should not be reformed. The Court also vacated a portion of the district court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Owens, finding that any prescriptive easement was extinguished by Idaho Code section 63-1009, which provided that tax deeds conveyed property free of all “encumbrances.” The Regans appealed; shortly thereafter, the Idaho Legislature amended Idaho Code section 63-1009. In September 2017, the Idaho Supreme Court released its original decision in this appeal, then granted the Regans’ petition for rehearing. After review, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment entered in favor of the Owens and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Regan v. Owen" on Justia Law

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This appeal centered on a boundary dispute between neighbors. James and Marjorie Croston appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of William and M. Ann Fischer, trustees of the William and Ann Fischer Revocable Trust (Fischers). The Crostons owned property adjacent to the southern side of property owned by the Fischers. For several decades, an existing post-and-wire fence divided the two properties. The existing fence fell into disrepair, and in 2015, the Fischers sought to remove the existing fence and replace it with a new fence. The Fischers had a survey done to ensure the new fence would be correctly placed; however, the survey revealed that the location of the old fence line did not reflect the platted property line. Instead, the old fence line extended south of the platted line approximately three feet on the eastern side and approximately nine feet on the western side. Following the survey, the Crostons built a new fence on the survey line, which prompted the Fischers’ to file the underlying lawsuit. Both parties claimed they owned the tract of land between the old fence line and the platted boundary line. The district court granted the Fischers’ motion for summary judgment reasoning that the old fence constituted a boundary by agreement, and there was no agreement to change the boundary line. The Crostons appealed that ruling, but finding no reversible error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fischer v. Croston" on Justia Law

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Gary and Glenna Eden sought to file a late notice of claim for their Water Right No. 37-864 which was not claimed during the pendency of the Snake River Basin Adjudication (“SRBA”), and therefore was decreed disallowed. In the SRBA, the Edens alleged that the SRBA’s Final Unified Decree and the Closure Order should have been set aside as void because they did not receive sufficient notice of the SRBA proceedings to satisfy due process. Further, the Edens argued they were not personally served with the required notice of default pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2). Furthermore, the Edens claimed that unique and compelling circumstances justify relief from the final judgment under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6). The SRBA court disagreed and denied the Edens’ relief on any of these grounds. Finding no reversible error in the SRBA court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Eden v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Gregory Hull appealed a district court decision concerning the allocation of development costs he was required to share with Richard Giesler and Idaho Trust Deeds, LLC. This case was the second appeal arising from a series of oral and written agreements between the parties to exchange and subdivide property. Hull argued the district court erred by excluding testimony from his expert witness. Both parties requested an award of attorney fees on appeal. Finding no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to disallow the expert’s testimony, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hull v. Geisler" on Justia Law