Opinion No. 85
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Steve Verby, District
decision of the district court is affirmed. Costs on appeal
are awarded to respondent.
and Feeney, Lewiston, attorneys for appellant. Jeremy Carr
Vernon & Weeks, Coeur d'Alene, attorneys for
respondent. Susan P. Weeks argued.
appeal arising out of Kootenai County, Douglas and Brenda
Lawrence ("the Lawrences") challenge a district
court judgment enjoining them from interfering with,
impeding, or preventing Spectra Site Communications, Inc.
("Spectra") from using or maintaining Blossom
Mountain Road, which traverses the Lawrences' property.
Spectra leases property owned by Robert and Mark Hall (the
"Halls") located east of the Lawrence property.
six-day bench trial, the district court held that Spectra had
proven that the Halls have an easement implied by prior use
and an easement implied by necessity. Accordingly, the
district court found that Spectra, as a lessee of the Halls,
was entitled to use and maintain Blossom Mountain Road. The
district court also awarded Spectra costs and attorney fees.
The Lawrences appealed, arguing, inter alia, that
the district court erred in finding that the Halls have the
easement upon which Spectra's injunctive relief is based.
Factual and Procedural Background
the property involved in this case is located in Township 50
North, Range 5 West, Boise Meridian, Kootenai County, Idaho.
Specifically, the Lawrences and the Halls own property on
Blossom Mountain, which is located south of Post Falls,
Idaho. The Lawrence property is located in the southeast
quarter of Section 21. The Hall property, which Spectra
leases, is located in Section 22. Section 21 is directly west
of Section 22. Signal Point Road is the only public road that
provides access to the private easement road, Blossom
Mountain Road. In turn, Blossom Mountain Road provides sole
access to all of the property subject to this litigation.
the Lawrence property and the Hall property were once part of
a larger tract of land owned by Harold and Marlene Funk (the
"Funks"). The Funks purchased their property in
1969, which consisted of land in Section 15, Section 21, and
Section 22. In 1975, the Funks sold most of their property to
Human Synergistics. Seven sales agreements were recorded
reflecting the sale of separate parcels of land in Sections
21, 15, and 22. Each of the seven sales agreements included
the following language:
5. Subject to and including an ingress egress easement over
this and adjoining property, in Said [sic] Sections 21 and 22
owned by the grantor and including an ingress egress easement
over portions of Section 21 heretofore granted to the
grantors. Said easement shall be over existing roads until
such time as all record owners shall agree to the relocation,
improvement and/or abandonment of all or any portions of any
roads. This easement is also over similar lands in section
relevant chain of title for the Lawrence property is as
follows: Funks to Human Synergistics; Human Synergistics to
Johnson & McHugh; Johnson & McHugh to National
Associated Properties; National Associated Properties to the
Farmanians; and the Farmanians to the Lawrences. The relevant
chain of title for the Hall property, which is leased to
Spectra, is as follows: Funks to Rasmussen and Chamberlain;
Rasmussen and Chamberlain to Van Sky; Van Sky to Switzer
Communications; Switzer Communications to Term Corp.; and
Term Corp. to the Halls.
action first reached the Idaho court system in 2003 when
Tower Asset Sub Inc. (Spectra's predecessor in interest
and hereinafter "Tower") sought declaratory and
injunctive relief after the Lawrences refused to allow it to
traverse Blossom Mountain Road. The district court granted
Tower summary judgment on its express easement claim, but
that judgment was vacated and remanded by this Court.
Tower Asset Sub Inc. v. Lawrence, 143 Idaho 710,
715, 152 P.3d 581, 586 (2007) (Tower I). Thereafter,
Tower merged with Spectra and renewed its motion for summary
judgment on the following three easement theories: (1)
easement implied by necessity; (2) easement implied by prior
use; and (3) easement by prescription. The district court
granted summary judgment on all three theories, which the
Lawrences appealed. This Court dismissed that appeal as
premature because the district court had not yet entered a
final judgment from which an appeal could be taken. Tower
Asset Sub Inc. v. Lawrence, 149 Idaho 621, 238 P.3d 221
(2010) (Tower II).
2013, following a six-day bench trial, the district court
entered a judgment enjoining the Lawrences from interfering
with, impeding, or preventing Spectra, its successors,
assigns, agents, servants, contractors, employees or tenants
from using or maintaining Blossom Mountain Road. The district
court based this judgment on a finding that Spectra proved
the existence of an ...