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Hoch v. Vance

Supreme Court of Idaho, Coeur D'alene

December 13, 2013

John M. HOCH and Carole D. Hoch, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
Rob VANCE and Becky Vance, husband and wife, Defendants-Appellants, and Jake Sweet and Audrey Sweet, husband and wife, Defendants.

Page 825

Clark & Feeney, LLP, Lewiston, for appellants. William J. Carr argued.

Creason, Moore, Dokken & Geidl, PLLC, for respondents. Samuel T. Creason argued.

BURDICK, Chief Justice.

Rob and Becky Vance appeal from the Nez Perce County district court's order granting partial summary judgment to John and Carole Hoch. Specifically, the Vances are appealing the district court's decision that the Hochs' warranty deed granted them an easement over the " upper road." Alternatively, the Vances argue that the district court erred in finding that the warranty deed was unambiguous. We affirm the district court's decision.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Jack Cridlebaugh bought 90 acres of land at Waha in Nez Perce County, which he subdivided into several parcels. He sold 20 acres to Rob and Becky Vance on October 12, 2000, 40 acres to Jake and Audrey Sweet on October 10, 2001, and 20 acres to John and Carol Hoch on March 26, 2002. He retained ten acres for himself.

Cridlebaugh testified that when he bought the original 90 acres, there were two access easements to it from Stagecoach Road, an upper one and a lower one. The route of the upper road, at a minimum, goes from the ten acres Cridlebaugh retained across the Sweets' property and a corner of the Vances' property before reaching the Hochs' property where it intersects with the lower road. He testified that he had both roads bladed to make them passable by a pickup in 1997 or 1998.

Cridlebaugh conveyed his interests to the Vances, the Sweets, and the Hochs by warranty deeds. Each of the warranty deeds contained a number of provisions concerning easements. The Vances' deed contained the following easement provisions relevant to this case:

TOGETHER WITH all easements for ingress and egress running from the public right-of-way to the above described real property which are appurtenances to said real property.
RESERVING UNTO THE GRANTOR, his heirs and assigns, all easements for ingress and egress running from public right-of-way to the above described real property which are appurtenances to said real property, together with an easement over and across all roadways presently existing on the property herein conveyed.

The Sweets' deed contained the following easement provisions relevant to this case:

TOGETHER WITH AND SUBJECT TO an easement for ingress and egress over and across existing roads located on the following described property: The East Half of the Northwest Quarter and Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of the Northeast Quarter all located in Section 22, Township 33 North, Range 4 West of the Boise Meridian, the Grantor reserving for himself, his heirs and assigns, said easements.
RESERVING UNTO THE GRANTOR, his heirs and assigns, all easements for ingress and egress running from public right-of-way to the above described real property which are appurtenances to said real property, together with an easement over and across all roadways presently existing on the property herein conveyed.

The parties agree that the language of this first provision of the Sweet Deed created an easement over the upper road. The reservation language of the second easement provision of the Sweet Deed is the same as the reservation language in the Vance Deed. Cridlebaugh testified that he reserved an easement over the upper road in the Sweet Deed ...


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