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Fuquay v. Susie Low and Cal Low

Supreme Court of Idaho

June 29, 2017

JOHN E. FUQUAY; CLINTON WARD FUQUAY; and HAILEY ROSE FUQUAY, Plaintiffs-Counterdefendants-Appellants,
v.
SUSIE LOW and CAL LOW, Defendants-Respondents, and GILBERT KING, as Trustee of the HEART K RANCH TRUST UTA DECEMBER 28, 2012; THE ESTATE OF GORDON G. KING; and ROSE M. KING, as Beneficiary of the HEART K RANCH TRUST UTA DECEMBER 28, 2012, Defendants-Counterclaimants-Respondents, and AVCO FINANCIAL SERVICES OF IDAHO FALLS; and FIRST AMERICAN TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

2017 Opinion No. 76

         Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Owyhee County. Hon. Thomas J. Ryan, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Fidelity National Law Group, Seattle, Washington, for appellants. Matthew R. Cleverley argued.

          Sawtooth Law Offices, Boise, for respondents Low. S. Bryce Farris argued.

          Ronald P. Rainey, Caldwell, for respondents King.

          HORTON, Justice.

          John Fuquay, Clinton Fuquay, and Hailey Fuquay (the Fuquays), appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment to Gilbert King, as Trustee of the Heart K Ranch Trust, the Estate of Gordon King, Rose King (the Kings), Susie Low, and Cal Low (the Lows), and the denial of the Fuquays' motion for reconsideration in a property dispute concerning an alleged prescriptive easement in favor of the Fuquays across the Kings' and Lows' property. We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         King Lane is a private, all-weather road in Owyhee County about one-half mile in length. It is lined by two barbed wire fences and it runs in an east-west direction connecting with Oreana Loop Road on the east end and Castle Lane on the west end. Castle Lane then continues southward until it connects with Oreana Loop Road. The Kings own the parcel of land to the north of King Lane, and the Lows own the parcel of land to the south of King Lane. The Lows purchased their property in 2006 from Samuel Steiner. The Fuquays own the parcels of land to the west of King Lane where it ends and connects with Castle Lane. The degree to which King Lane crosses over either the King property or the Low property is not known; however, it is undisputed that King Lane crosses portions of each property.

         The Kings purchased their property on September 17, 1973. According to Rose King, at the time the Kings purchased the property, "King Lane was only a path through grass and weeds and was wet and muddy most of the year." According to Samuel Steiner, the Lows' predecessor, "during wet weather" King Lane was "pretty difficult to get through." Starting in 1973, the Kings hauled rocks to build a base for King Lane and over the years improved it to the point where it could be used consistently for the Kings' farming needs. In 1982, the Kings sold their property to Zane Block, but repossessed the property in 1986. According to Rose King, it was impossible to cross King Lane in a large truck until 1988-89 when a welded barrel culvert under King Lane was replaced by a concrete culvert.

         At various times throughout the year, the Kings graze cattle over King Lane. Until 2014, the Kings had barbed wire gates on both the east and west ends of King Lane to enclose their livestock. Anyone attempting to use King Lane had to stop, open, and then close the gates. In 2014, the Kings placed large iron gates across each end of King Lane.

         The Fuquays purchased their property in 1977. Contrary to Rose King's testimony, the Fuquays claim that they have continuously used large semi-trucks, cattle trucks, farm vehicles, and personal vehicles to cross King Lane since 1977. In 2014, John Fuquay divided the Fuquay property into parcels for sale. At that time, the Fuquays discovered that there was no recorded easement for the benefit of the Fuquay property for access by way of King Lane. In the summer of 2014, a dispute also arose between the Kings and the Fuquays regarding the iron gates that the Kings placed at each end of King Lane.

         On August 11, 2014, the Fuquays filed a complaint against the Kings and the Lows seeking a declaratory judgment for a prescriptive easement across King Lane. On September 4, 2014, the Fuquays filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the Kings from blocking their access to King Lane. The district court granted the Fuquays' request for a temporary restraining order and set a hearing for preliminary injunction. Following that hearing, the district court denied the Fuquays' request for temporary injunction.

         The Fuquays filed a motion for summary judgment against the Lows; however, the Fuquays subsequently withdrew the motion. The Kings then moved for summary judgment. On March 25, 2015, the district court denied the Kings' motion for summary judgment, finding that that there was a material issue of fact as to when the Fuquays' claimed adverse use of King Lane began. On March 30, 2015, the Fuquays filed an amended complaint.

         On April 7, 2015, the Kings filed a motion for reconsideration under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 11(a)(2)(B)[1] arguing that under Idaho's joint-use-in-common rule, the Fuquays' use of King Lane was presumptively permissive and that the Fuquays failed to present any evidence of "adverse" use to rebut that presumption. On June 19, 2015, the district court granted the Kings' motion for reconsideration, concluding that the Fuquays failed to make any showing that their use of King Lane was adverse use under a claim of right; an essential element required to create a prescriptive easement. The district court then entered judgment in favor of the Kings on July 8, 2015. On July 15, 2015, the Lows moved for partial summary judgment raising the same ...


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