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Jim & Maryann Plane Family Trust v. Skinner

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 23, 2015

JASON & JANAE SKINNER, husband and wife, Defendants-Respondents, and DORAN E. SMITH and JUDY E. SMITH, husband and wife; KIM N. ERICKSON and CYNTHIA ERICKSON, husband and wife; and any and all persons claiming any interest in and to the subject real property located in Sec. 27, T16S, R43E, Boise Meridian, Bear Lake County, State of Idaho, Defendants

As Corrected April 10, 2015.

Page 640

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 641

2015 Opinion No. 6

Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bear Lake County. Hon. Mitchell W. Brown, District Judge.

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

Schroeder & Lezamiz Law Offices, LLP, Boise, for appellant. W. Alan. Schroeder argued.

Racine Olson Nye Budge & Bailey, Chartered, Pocatello, for respondents. Scott J. Smith argued.

HORTON, Justice. Chief Justice BURDICK and Justices EISMANN, J. JONES and Justice Pro Tem WALTERS, CONCUR.


Page 642

HORTON, Justice.

This is an appeal from the decision of the district court for Bear Lake County denying a motion to void a portion of a stipulated judgment. We affirm.


This case concerns three small, adjacent parcels of land in Bear Lake County which line up in a north to south direction and are bordered by State Highway 89 on the west and Bear Lake on the east. In 1998, the northern parcel was owned by Peggy and David Everton, the middle parcel was owned by Annette and Sterling Wallentine, and the southern parcel was owned by Jeanne Macvicar. Historically, Macvicar had accessed her property by a driveway that went through the Everton and Wallentine properties. The driveway left State Highway 89 at the northwestern edge of the Everton parcel, traveled along the western edge of the Everton and Wallentine parcels, and terminated at Macvicar's property.

On November 5, 1998, Macvicar filed a complaint against the Evertons and Wallentines, requesting that the district court declare an easement existed along the western edge of their parcels. On May 30, 2000, the parties filed a Stipulation for Settlement (the Stipulation). On August 22, 2000, the district court accepted the stipulation and entered its Judgment and Decree of Quiet Title (the 2000 Judgment).

The Evertons, the Wallentines, and Macvicar subsequently sold their parcels to the parties to this appeal. Macvicar sold her property to Jim and Maryann Plane, who transferred the property to the Jim and Maryann Plane Family Trust (the Trust). The Planes had actual knowledge of the 2000 Judgment and the Stipulation when they purchased Macvicar's property. Jason and Janae Skinner purchased the parcels owned by the Evertons and Wallentines.

This controversy arose after September 27, 2012, when the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) wrote the Skinners a letter demanding that the Skinners remove their " illegal" driveway. However, the letter also enclosed a permit application for the Skinners to submit which would " allow for the continued use of this currently illegal access."

On April 1, 2013, the Trust filed a motion, pursuant to I.R.C.P. 60(b)(4), requesting that the district court void three sentences of the 2000 Judgment. Paragraph five of the 2000 Judgment provided:

There is granted to Jeanne Macvicar by Annette and Sterling Wallentine, and Peggy and David Everton, their heirs, assigns and successor's [sic] in interest, an easement of approximately ten (10) feet in width for egress and ingress to their property, said easement being located on the west border of said properties. The easement shall not exceed its present width where it adjoins the Everton property. No more [sic] five feet of the Wallentine

Page 643

property shall be used as part of the easement, and only that portion of the Wallentine property as necessary to provide ten (10) feet in width shall be used. the state right of way line. [sic] It is understood that the existing right-of-way leading from the State right of way to the Everton, Wallentine and Macvicar properties may be located, in part, upon the State right-of-way as historically has been so used.

We have emphasized the three sentences that the Trust seeks to have declared void. The Trust argued these provisions are void because the district court lacked personal and subject matter jurisdiction to address the State's right-of-way because the State was not a party to the litigation. The effect of eliminating these three sentences would be to expand the width of the easement over the Skinners' parcels from a maximum of five feet to ten feet.

On April 18, 2013, the Skinners filed an application with ITD, seeking permission to continue to access the State right-of-way for purposes of a driveway. ITD issued a permit authorizing the Skinners and the Planes to use up to five feet of the State right-of-way.[1]

The district court denied the Trust's motion on August 13, 2014. The district court reasoned that it could not excise the three sentences from the 2000 Judgment because removing them would be contrary to the parties' predecessors' intent, stating:

Plane Trust's request that this Court void only a portion of the Judgment is merely an impermissible attempt to surgically modify the parties' predecessors' Stipulation and the subsequent Judgment of the Court by deleting language to create an entirely different agreement that was never agreed upon by their predecessors or ratified by the court. . . . The clear and unambiguous intent of the parties' predecessors was to limit the encroachment upon the Everton's [sic] and Wallentine's [sic] property in precisely the manner articulated in the Stipulation and subsequent Judgment. It would ...

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