ANDREW and KIMBERLY KIRK, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants-Cross Respondents,
ANN B. WESCOTT, f/k/a ANN B. MCELVEEN, Defendant-Respondent-Cross Appellant, and Does 1 through 20, Unknown Claimants in and to the Property described as Lots 7 and 7A Block 1 of Glassford Heights Subdivision, Blaine County, Idaho, Defendants.
Opinion No. 96
from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District
judgment of the district court is reversed.
Keane LLP, Boise, for appellants. Jed W. Manwaring argued.
Law, PLLC, Boise, for respondent. Kim J. Trout argued.
JONES, Chief Justice
appeal arises out of an action for quiet title filed by
Appellants Andrew and Kimberly Kirk ("the Kirks")
against Ann Wescott. The Kirks bought a plot of land in
Blaine County, Idaho, referred to as Lot 7 of Block 1 of the
Glassford Heights Subdivision ("Lot 7"). After
purchasing Lot 7, the Kirks found out that Lot 8 of the
subdivision had been granted an easement of access across the
southeast corner of Lot 7. Wescott owns Lot 8. In 2012, the
Kirks brought this action to quiet title, asking the court to
terminate the easement encumbering their property.
parties moved for summary judgment, asking the court to
interpret the deed granting the easement. The district court
granted partial summary judgment to Wescott, concluding that
the easement was created and none of the events that would
trigger its termination had occurred. The Kirks then filed
two motions to amend the complaint, both of which the
district court denied.
bench trial, the district court dismissed the Kirks'
action for quiet title. Wescott sought an award of attorney
fees, which the district court also denied. On appeal, the
Kirks challenge the district court's grant of partial
summary judgment to Wescott and the court's denial of
their motions to amend the complaint. Wescott cross-appealed,
challenging the district court's denial of her motion for
attorney fees. Wescott also seeks an award of attorney fees
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
1997, Leif Odmark owned Lots 7 and 8, which were undeveloped.
Douglas and Charlotte Woodcock ("the Woodcocks")
owned Lot 9, adjacent to the south side of Lot 8. Lot 7 is
bordered on the east by Bench Road, which ends at the
southeastern point of the lot. Neither Lot 8 nor Lot 9 has
direct access to Bench Road. All three lots were bordered on
the west by a strip of undeveloped land referred to as
"Jones Lane, " which separated the lots from U.S.
Highway 75. Lots 8 and 9 were bordered on the east by land
owned by the United States Forest Service ("USFS").
Originally, Blaine County platted access to Lots 8 and 9 from
U.S. Highway 75 through Jones Lane. However, this would have
required building roads through established wetlands. In
1998, the Woodcocks filed a Special Use Application with
USFS, seeking an easement on USFS property bordering the
eastern side of Lots 8 and 9. The application proposed an
easement to use a forest road along the east side of Lots 8
and 9 to access Bench Road. The application also proposed
granting access to Lot 8, thereby eliminating the need to
build an access way through the wetlands in Jones Lane.
April 4, 2000, while the Woodcocks' application was
pending, Odmark sold Lot 8 to Wescott. The warranty deed
stated that Odmark conveyed Lot 8 to Wescott "[t]ogether
with a temporary Easement of Access described in the attached
Exhibit 1." Exhibit 1 provided:
This Warranty Deed shall include a temporary 25 foot wide
Easement of Access (See plat map - Exhibit 2) over the
Southeast corner of Lot 7 of Block 1 of the Glassford Heights
Sub for access to Lot 8 of the Glassford Heights Sub. When/if
Blaine County and The United States Forest Service provide a
permanent access across USFS Lands to Lot 8, the owner of Lot
8 shall Quitclaim the Easement of Access back to Lot 7 within
30 days of written receipt thereof.
This Easement of Access shall become "In Effect"
only upon receipt by the owner (of Lot 8) of written denial
by the USFS for the owner (of Lot 8) to access Lot 8 across
USFS lands on the Eastside of the property line (of Lot 8)
and beginning at Bench Road. This Easement of Access shall
remain "In Effect" only until Blaine County agrees
to allow access to Lot 8 from Jones Lane. The owner's
[sic] of Lot 8 shall Quitclaim the Easement of Access back to
Lot 7 within one year or upon completion of the driveway,
whichever occurs first.
August 3, 2000, USFS granted an easement to the Woodcocks to
use a forest road on the eastern side of Lots 8 and 9 to
access Bench Road ("Woodcocks' USFS Easement").
The instrument provided that the "easement shall
continue for as long as the property served is used for a
single family residence, " and that "the Grantor
shall review terms and conditions of this easement at the end
of each 30-year period from the date of issuance."
However, the instrument also provided an
expiration date of 12/31/2029. A description of the easement
was provided in an Exhibit A that was attached to the
instrument, entitled "Property Description [of] A
33' Wide Easement to Access Lots 8 & 9. Glassford
and her former husband constructed a house on Lot 8 and
originally used a dirt road running through Jones Lane to
access the lot. In 2007, the then-owner of Lot 7 filed an
application with Blaine County, asking the county to vacate
Jones Lane. The County vacated Jones Lane, finding that
allowing a right-of-way through the area could disrupt the
wetlands and that the easement granted to the Woodcocks
provided sufficient access to Lots 8 and 9.
that year, Wescott applied for and received an easement from
USFS to use the forest road on the east side of Lots 8 and 9
to access Bench Road ("Wescott's USFS
Easement"). The instrument provided that "[t]his
easement shall expire on 12/31/2036, " and "[a]t
that time, if the Grantee still needs the road access to
private property, the easement will be reissued for a period
of 10 years." However, the instrument provided, further,
"that the Grantor shall review the terms and conditions
of this easement at the end of each 30-year period from the
date of issuance, and may incorporate in the easement such
new terms, conditions, and stipulations as existing and
prospective conditions may warrant." Attached to the
instrument as Exhibit A was a description of the easement-the
same description attached to the Woodcocks' USFS
Easement. Thereafter, Wescott constructed a driveway on Lot 8
exiting onto the forest road and has since used the forest
road to access the property. Wescott has never used the
deeded Easement of Access across Lot 7. In 2010, the Kirks
bought Lot 7. The Kirks did not become aware of the Easement
of Access until several months after they purchased the
August 3, 2012, the Kirks filed this action for quiet title
against Wescott, seeking to terminate the Easement of Access.
The Kirks alleged that Wescott was obligated to quitclaim the
Easement of Access back to the owner of Lot 7 within 30 days
of receiving the easement from USFS. The Kirks additionally
alleged that Wescott was obligated to quitclaim the Easement
of Access back to the owner of Lot 7 within one year of the
easement being granted or upon completion of the driveway,
whichever occurred first.
filed an answer and moved for summary judgment, alleging that
Wescott's USFS Easement is not "permanent" and
did not trigger the requirement that she quitclaim the
Easement of Access back to the owner of Lot 7. Additionally,
Wescott alleged that the requirement that she quitclaim the
Easement of Access back "within one year or upon
completion of the driveway" could only be triggered by
Blaine County allowing access to Lot 8 through Jones Lane,
which could not occur as Blaine County had vacated Jones Lane
in 2007. Overall, Wescott argued that the court should not
terminate the Easement of Access because Lot 8 would be left
landlocked if USFS failed to renew Wescott's USFS
Easement. The Kirks filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment, alleging that the Easement of Access was never in
effect because Wescott had not received a written denial from
the USFS and, even if it was in effect, the easement was to
terminate within one year of its creation. The Kirks also
alleged that Wescott abandoned the Easement of Access by
failing to use it and by taking affirmative actions to
acquire access to Lot 8 through alternative means.
district court heard argument on the parties' motions for
summary judgment on March 31, 2014. As relevant to this
appeal, the only evidence on the record were copies of the
Easement of Access and Wescott's USFS Easement,
affidavits from experts interpreting those documents,
Wescott's deposition testimony, and evidence of Blaine
County vacating Jones Lane. Neither party included extrinsic