JIMMY SIMS and SUSAN C. SIMS, f/k/a SUSAN C. DODGE, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
EUGENE THOMAS DAKER and ELDA MAE DAKER, husband and wife, Defendants-Appellants.
2013 Opinion No. 64
Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Clearwater County. Hon. Michael J. Griffin, District Judge.
The judgment of the district court is affirmed.
Mark S. Snyder, Lewiston, for appellants.
Dale O. Cox, Orofino, for respondents.
J. JONES, Justice.
This is a boundary line dispute between neighboring property owners in Clearwater County. Jimmy and Susan Sims brought suit against Eugene and Elda Daker, claiming a fence line between their properties constituted a boundary by agreement. Following a bench trial, the district court ruled in favor of the Simses. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
When this case arose, the Dakers and the Simses were adjoining property owners on what is known as "Greer Grade" in Clearwater County. The Dakers acquired their property, consisting of approximately 103 acres, from Craft Wall of Idaho, Inc., in 1983. The Sims property, consisting of approximately 12 acres, was acquired by Susan Sims from Elgin and Claudia Larson in 1999. The Sims property borders the east side of the Dakers' property.
According to the deeds by which both parties acquired their properties, the common line between the NW¼NE¼ and the NE¼NE¼ of Section 11 (the "Deeded Line") is the boundary between the two properties. The Dakers claim ownership to the Deeded Line, which is their east boundary. The Simses claim ownership of an approximately three-acre parcel located to the west of the Deeded Line (The Parcel). The Parcel is roughly triangular in shape with the Deeded Line being the east boundary, a fence line that runs from the Deeded Line to a switchback on Highway 11 forming the northwest border, and the State Highway 11 right-of-way forming the southwest border.
This dispute arose in late 2009, when Randy Hollibaugh, who was then leasing the Dakers' property, hired a surveyor to locate their east boundary. The survey revealed that the Parcel was located entirely within the legal description in the Dakers' deed. When the Simses learned of the survey, they contacted the Dakers, who lived out of state. Jimmy Sims listened in on a phone call between his wife and Elda Daker and described it at trial as follows:
A. [Jimmy Sims] Ms. Daker told me that Randy [Hollibaugh] had a lease on her land, verbal lease, for $1, 000 a year. She told me that she had no knowledge of him surveying her land, and that she did not give him permission to survey that land. And Ms. Daker on that telephone call told me at least twice or three times that she and her husband bought that property, the entire Daker place, by fence line. She said she and her husband—
Q. [Dakers' Counsel] You said by fence line?
A. Yes, sir. She bought it by fence line. And she said that she and her husband had walked the fence lines on that first conversation . . . .
Jimmy Sims further testified that during subsequent calls between Elda Daker and the Simses, Ms. Daker "told us a minimum of four times that the fence lines were the boundary lines."
After the survey was completed, Hollibaugh installed a fence on the Deeded Line, precipitating this action. The Simses sued in March of 2010, seeking to quiet title to the Parcel. Hollibaugh was originally a party to the action, but when he later bought the Dakers' land, excepting the Parcel, he was dismissed from the case. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment but both motions were denied by the district court.
After a bench trial, the district court issued its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The court found:
No one knows when the fence was built. No one knows why the fence was built, or why it was built in the location where it was built. There is no evidence as to who owned the property on either side of the fence when it was built, or if the same person owned the property on both sides of the fence at the time it was built. There is no evidence to disprove that the fence was intended to be a boundary.
Thus, the district court concluded that the "boundary between the Daker and Sims property was uncertain, " and that "there was an implied agreement that the fence line . . . was built as a boundary between the two properties." Therefore, it "further conclude[d] that the [Simses] have proven by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that the old fence line . . . is the boundary between their property and the property owned previously by the Dakers, and now owned by the Hollibaughs." The district court therefore ...