DAVID STANLEY and JEAN B. KEFFELER, Plaintiffs and Appellees,
WILLIAM CHARLES HOTES, ARDIS J. HOTES and all other persons unknown, claiming or who might claim any right, title estate, or interest in or lien or encumbrance upon the real property described in the complaint adverse to Plaintiffs' Ownership or any cloud upon Plaintiffs' title thereto, whether such claim or possible claim be resent to contingent, Defendants and Appellants.
Submitted on Briefs: April 10, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Park, Cause No. DV 13-161 Honorable Yvonne
Laird, Presiding Judge.
Appellants: Stephen E. Woodruff, Huppert, Swindlehurst &
Woodruff, P.C., Livingston, Montana.
Appellees: Karl Knuchel, Eric T. Oden, Attorneys at Law,
M. SANDEFUR JUDGE.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
William Charles "Chuck" Hotes and Ardis J. Hotes
(collectively Hotes) appeal judgments of the Montana Sixth
Judicial District Court, Park County, ordering Hotes to cease
"cabling" of their cattle guards on the Mission
Meadows Road and awarding David Stanley and Jean B. Keffeler
(Plaintiffs) attorney fees. We affirm.
This action arises out of a multi-faceted property rights
dispute between Plaintiffs and Hotes in the Mission Meadows
subdivision in Park County, Montana. Mission Meadows is rural
residential subdivision created of record by county-approved
certificate of survey (COS) in 1974. Plaintiffs own tracts
2-4, and 8 as originally platted in COS 11, and tract 3A as
subsequently platted in COS 1424. Ardis Hotes is the record
owner of a tract of land subsequently platted in Park County
COS 101A and comprised from original Mission Meadows 17-18
and 21-22 (COS 11). Chuck is Ardis's adult son and the
managing occupant of her property.
Swingley Road is a roadway meandering southeast from
Interstate 90 through the Mission Meadows subdivision in Park
County. Mission Meadows Road is a platted private roadway
meandering northwest from the southwest extension of Swingley
Road, bisecting Hotes's property, and then continuing
along the interior boundaries of various subdivision tracts
to its ultimate terminus in the interior of Plaintiffs'
aggregate property. Mission Meadows Road is the record access
between Plaintiffs' aggregate property and Swingley Road.
In November 2013, as amended October 2015, Plaintiffs filed
various claims against Hotes in the Montana Sixth Judicial
District Court for quiet title, damages in trespass, and
declaratory and injunctive relief regarding various ownership
and access rights. Hotes responded with general denials and
various counterclaims. On April 28, 2017, the District Court
vacated an imminent bench trial and underlying pretrial order
based on the parties' purported settlement of all
outstanding issues. A few months later, based on the
parties' failure to either timely file proof of
settlement, or show cause for failure to do so, the District
Court issued a sanctions order pursuant to M. R. Civ. P.
16(f) entering judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on all
outstanding issues. In pertinent part, the Court ordered,
adjudged, and decreed that:
Having violated protective covenants pertaining to
said property, [Hotes] shall either replace existing
cattle guards installed by either of them with cattle guards
that do not interfere with reasonable vehicle access to
[Plaintiffs'] property or remove [them]
In November 2017, after further negotiation between the
parties and upon subsequent uncontested motion, the District
Court approved a final written settlement agreement executed
by the parties (Plaintiffs and Hotes) on October 3, 2017. In
pertinent part, the 2017 agreement provided:
In order to better address the Covenant violation
issues adjudicated by the [c]ourt . . . Hotes'[s]
existing cattle guards may remain in place,
provided that in lieu of replacing the cattle guards