GLEN WAYNE NIELSON and CHERYL E. NIELSON, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
ROBERT TALBOT and MICHELE TALBOT, husband and wife; PAUL PARKER and SAUNDRA PARKER, husband and wife, Defendants-Respondents.
Opinion No. 29
from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Franklin County. Hon. Robert C. Naftz,
district court's judgment is affirmed in part, vacated in
part, and remanded. Costs on appeal are awarded to Talbots.
Law Offices, PC, Clifton, for Appellants. Blake S. Atkin
Racine, Olson, Nye & Budge, Pocatello, for Respondents.
Lane V. Erickson argued.
Nature of the Case
a property line dispute. Appellants, Glen and Cheryl Nielson
(the "Nielsons"), challenge a district court's
grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents, Robert and
Michele Talbot (the "Talbots") and Paul and Saundra
Parker (the "Parkers"). The Parkers and Talbots
were neighbors. The Parkers sold their property to the
Nielsons by warranty deed. Shortly after purchasing the
property, the Nielsons filed a complaint against the Talbots
arguing that, according to the legal description in the
warranty deed, the Talbots' shed, carport, and driveway
extended over the property line and onto the Nielsons'
property. The Nielsons also filed a complaint against the
Parkers arguing that the Parkers were obligated to defend the
title of the property that they had sold. The two cases were
consolidated and the district court granted summary judgment
in favor of the Talbots and the Parkers. We affirm in part,
vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent
with this opinion.
Factual and Procedural Background
1979, Craig and Sue Shaffer (the "Shaffers")
purchased a large parcel of land that they subsequently
divided into two pieces: one containing a pasture that was
enclosed by a fence (the "Talbot Property"), and a
second that contained the remaining property (the
Factual Background of the Talbot Property
1985, the Shaffers sold the fenced pasture to the Murdocks.
At the time of the sale, the Shaffers and the Murdocks agreed
that the fence line was the property line. A legal
description of the land sold to the Murdocks was included in
the deed, and both parties believed that the legal
description reflected their agreement that the fence line was
the property line.
1992, the Murdocks sold the property to the Whiteheads, who
were home builders. The Murdocks informed the Whiteheads that
the fence line was the property line. The Whiteheads owned
the property for approximately six months during which time
they built a house on the land. The fence was taken down
sometime during the Whiteheads' ownership of the Talbot
1993, the Whiteheads sold the property to the Larsens. The
same legal description that was in the deed from Shaffers to
Murdocks was included in the deed, which the Larsens believed
reflected the property line between their property and what
is now referred to as the Nielson Property. At the time of
the sale, the Talbot Property was bare dirt except for the
house. Conversely, the Nielson Property, which was owned by
the Cromwells at the time, was landscaped with grass and
lilac bushes. Mr. Larsen discussed his intention to landscape
the Talbot Property with Mr. Cromwell, and the two men agreed
that Mr. Larsen would landscape the Talbot Property up to the
property line, which the men believed was established by Mr.
Cromwell's landscaping, i.e., groomed grass and lilac
bushes. Thereafter, Mr. Larsen installed a sprinkler system
and planted and maintained grass up to the lilac bushes. The
Cromwells and the Larsens maintained their yards under the
belief that the lilac bushes established the property line.
Sometime later, Mr. Larsen built a shed on the back corner of
his property. Mr. Larsen built the shed so that the back side
of it was on what he believed to be the property line.
1995, the Larsens sold their property to the Talbots. Mr.
Larsen testified that, at the time he sold the property to
the Talbots, the property line between the Talbot Property
and the Nielson Property, which was still owned by the
Cromwells, was "well defined by lilac bushes, grass,
yards, sprinkler system, and shed that existed on either our
property or the Cromwell property." After purchasing the
Talbot Property, the Talbots spoke with Mr. Cromwell about
their desire to build a carport and driveway on their
property, which would border the property line. The two
parties discussed the appearance of the carport and agreed
that it would border the property line, i.e., the lilac
bushes. Mr. Talbot testified that "[f]rom the time we
moved onto our property and after installing the driveway and
carport, the boundary line that existed continued to be well
defined by the lilac bushes, grass, sprinkler system, shed,
driveway and carport that existed on either our property or
the Cromwell's [sic] property. . . . We were neighbors
with the Cromwells for nearly 10 years. During all of this
time the boundary line that existed between our property and
the Cromwell's [sic] property was always the same and was
defined by the lilacs, grass, yards, sprinkler system, shed,
driveway and carport."
Factual Background of the Nielson Property
1986, the Shaffers sold the property that they had retained
(i.e., the Nielson Property) to Beneficial Life Mortgage
Company. Approximately three months later, Beneficial Life
Mortgage Company sold the property to the Cromwells. A legal
description was included in the deed, which the Cromwells
believed reflected the fence line as the property line
between the Nielson Property and the Talbot Property. At the
time the Cromwells purchased their property, the Talbot
Property was still a fenced pasture owned by the Murdocks.
Immediately after purchasing the property, the Cromwells
began maintaining grass up to the fence line. Additionally,
Mr. Cromwell planted several lilac bushes along the fence to
create a natural privacy barrier. Mr. Cromwell testified that
Mr. Whitehead took the fence down in 1992. Mr. Cromwell
testified that, although he did not have any discussions
about the property line with the Whiteheads, the lilac bushes
and maintained yard established a clear property line. The
Cromwells owned the Nielson Property for approximately
eighteen years during which time the Talbot Property was
owned by the Murdocks, the Whiteheads, the Larsens, or the
Talbots. Mr. Cromwell testified that while he owned the
[T]he boundary line that existed between our property and the
Talbot's [sic] property was always the same and was
defined by the fence, or once it was removed, by the lilacs,
grass, yards, sprinkler system, shed, driveway and carport.
Every neighbor . . . that lived on the Talbot property . . .
agreed to the boundary line through their maintenance of the
boundary line. There was never any dispute about the boundary
line between the properties.
2004, the Cromwells sold the Nielson Property to the Heaps.
The Heaps believed that the lilac bushes and the carport
marked the property line. In 2006, the Heaps sold the Nielson
Property to the Parkers. The Parkers believed that the
property line was marked by the lilac bushes and the carport.
The Parkers owned the Nielson Property for approximately
seven years. In 2013, the Parkers sold the Nielson Property
to the Nielsons.
Factual Background of the Dispute
after purchasing their property, Mr. Nielson measured his lot
according to the legal description in the deed and discovered
for the first time that the Talbots' carport encroached
upon his property by approximately thirteen feet. Mr. Nielson
believed that the lilac bushes were planted to cover the
carport and did not indicate a property line. Mrs. Nielson
stated that when they purchased the property there was
nothing on the ground that appeared to be a property line.
Mrs. Nielson testified ...