THOMAS MICHAEL HUDSON and REBECCA ANNE HUDSON, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
DENNIS R. IRWIN, IRWIN ENTERPRISES, LLC, and WEST FORK LODGE, INC., Defendants and Appellees.
Submitted on Briefs: October 25, 2017
FROM District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In
and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DV-12-250 Honorable
Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge
Appellants: Robert T. Bell, Reep, Bell, Laird & Jasper,
P.C., Missoula, Montana
Appellees: Martin S. King, Worden Thane P.C., Missoula,
McGrath, Chief Justice
This is an appeal from a Twenty-First Judicial District Court
order granting summary judgment in favor of Dennis Irwin,
Irwin Enterprises, LLC, and West Fork Lodge, Inc.
(collectively Irwin), concluding that Thomas and Rebecca
Hudson (Hudsons) do not have an easement to access a nearby
airstrip. We affirm.
We restate the issues on appeal as follows:
Whether the District Court erred when it concluded that the
Hudsons were not entitled to access an easement located on
the Irwin Property.
Whether the owner of real property who is establishing a
general plan development can create an easement upon the
owner's own parcel.
Whether the District Court's prevailing party award of
attorney fees should be vacated.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The Hudsons own real property located in Ravalli County,
Montana, known as "Parcel A of Certificate of Survey No.
490742-R, Section 4, Township 1 North, Range 21 West, P.M.M.,
Ravalli County, Montana" (Hudson Property). Irwin owns
real property located in Ravalli County, Montana, known as
"A tract of land located in and being a portion of
Section 4, Township 1 North, Range 21 West, P.M.M., Ravalli
County, Montana, and being more particularly described as
Parcel B, Certificate of Survey No. 490742-R" (Irwin
Property). Before being subdivided by a previous
owner, the Hudson and Irwin Properties were one in the same.
A privately owned, public use airport (Airport) is located on
the Irwin Property. The Airport was founded by Roy Shook for
United States Forest Service purposes and was operated from a
building referred to as "West Fork Lodge." In 1976,
Certificate of Survey (COS) 1075 was recorded, depicting
eleven parcels of land. The airstrip to the Airport is
located within Parcel 7 of COS 1075. West Fork Lodge is
located outside of COS 1075 on COS 719 (West Fork Lodge
Shook sold the land north of the airstrip to Harold
Mildenberger and the airstrip and West Fork Lodge to David
Monks. In 1980, Monks conveyed the West Fork Lodge Property
to Shook Mountain Resort. In 1981, Monks conveyed Parcel 7 of
COS 1075 to Shook Mountain Resort. Also in 1981, an easement
(Easement Grant) was executed and recorded, which described
an airport known as the Wilcox-Shook Mountain Resort Airport
that exists across portions of Parcels 4, 5, and 7 of COS
1075. The Easement Grant stated ...