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Quarter Circle JP Ranch, LLC v. Jerde

Supreme Court of Montana

April 3, 2018

QUARTER CIRCLE JP RANCH, LLC; WALLY PAPEZ and ARETTA PAPEZ, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
BARBARA JERDE, Defendant, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: January 24, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twenty-Second Judicial District, In and For the County of Carbon, Cause No. DV 14-67 Honorable Blair Jones, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Jacqueline R. Papez, Lee Bruner, Doney Crowley, P.C., Helena, Montana.

          For Appellee: Daniel G. Gillispie, Attorney at Law, Billings, Montana.

          OPINION

          JIM RICE JUSTICE.

         ¶1 Wally Papez, Aretta Papez and Quarter Circle JP Ranch, LLC (collectively "Quarter Circle") appeal from the February 2, 2017 Order on Cross Motions for Partial Summary Judgment and the June 10, 2016 Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Adjudication entered by the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court, Carbon County. Barbara Jerde cross-appeals. We affirm in part and reverse in part, addressing the following issues:

1. Did the District Court err by concluding a road easement "for the purpose of conducting farming and ranching operations and activities" was specific in nature and unambiguously included residential use?
2. Did the District Court err by concluding the easement did not also provide access to adjacent after-acquired property?
3. Did the District Court err by denying joinder of the owner of the after-acquired property to the litigation?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In 1988, John Papez, James and Phyllis Hoskin, Lorraine Lindblad, and Clifford Helt entered a "Mutual Grant of Access Easement, " wherein they, as "Grantors-Grantees, " granted access over an "existing trail or roadway, " as follows:

A non-exclusive access easement over and across the above-described lands on the existing trail or roadway for ingress and egress to and from adjoining properties owned by the respective Grantors/Grantees for the purpose of conducting farming and ranching operations and activities, together with the right to repair and maintain the same in the condition it now exists at each party's own respective cost and expense, and to provide access to the parties hereto along this existing trail running from N1/2S1/2, Sec. 33-6S-22E, M.P.M., to the county road running along the South side of Sec. 9-7S-22E, M.P.M. [Emphasis added.]

         Quarter Circle is the successor-in-interest to the properties previously owned by John Papez and James and Phillis Hoskin (Papez Property). Jerde is successor-in-interest to the property previously owned by Lorraine Lindblad (Jerde Record Property). Jerde also purports to be an unrecorded contract purchaser of other real property abutting the Jerde Record Property (Jerde Contract Property). The Papez Property and the Jerde Record Property are burdened and benefitted, respectively, by the easement. The Jerde Contract Property was not owned by any party to the access easement at the time of execution in 1988.

         ¶3 In 2009, Jerde moved a fifth-wheel trailer onto the Jerde Record Property and began using it as a residence. She also constructed a shed and kept horses on the property. When the trail/roadway became difficult to use, Jerde departed from the road and traveled across other land owned by ...


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