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King County v. Ulland

February 3, 1997

KING COUNTY, A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, AND MICHAEL G. BANFIELD AND JANE P. BANFIELD, HUSBAND AND WIFE, AND THE MARITAL COMMUNITY COMPOSED THEREOF, RESPONDENTS,
v.
MARCUS C. ULLAND AND DAWN E. ULLAND, HUSBAND AND WIFE, AND THE MARITAL COMMUNITY COMPOSED THEREOF, APPELLANTS.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 93-2-19661-0. Date filed: 04/10/95.

Authored by Ronald E. Cox. Concurring: Walter E. Webster, Ann L. Ellington.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cox

COX, J. -- Marcus and Dawn Ulland appeal two summary judgment orders concerning an easement for a driveway that their property shares with two adjacent properties. The trial court did not err by (1) concluding that the driveway, as reconstructed, is a valid easement across the Ullands' property, (2) ruling that the easement coincides with its legal description, (3) dismissing the Ullands' inverse condemnation claim, and (4) denying their motion for CR 11 sanctions. Accordingly, we affirm.

The driveway in question provides access to three properties from Northeast Woodinville-Duvall Road. The properties are now owned, respectively, by the Ullands, the Banfields, and King County. This common driveway was originally established in 1979 by an agreement between the then owners of the three properties. The driveway is the only access to the Banfield and County properties. The original easement provides in part:

The undersigned owners grant to each other and to any future owners of the following described properties:

[first legal description]

An easement for ingress, egress and utilities over, under, across, through and upon a 30 foot strip of land, the centerline of which is described as follows:

[second legal description]

The undersigned agree to mutually maintain said road sharing equally in all costs.

In 1984, the then owners of the three properties amended the easement to reflect their maintenance cost-sharing practices at the time. The amendment also provides that the "easement continues to be an easement appurtenant and, like the maintenance agreement, it runs with the land."

In 1989, the County commenced a condemnation proceeding to acquire property for a road project in Woodinville. On June 25, 1993, the County purchased the Pelleys' property. *fn1

Part of the road project included widening and lowering Northeast Woodinville-Duvall Road along the southern edge of the three properties that are at issue in this case. As a result of the project, the driveway created by the original easement would no longer line up with the new road. Therefore, the County negotiated with the Pidgeons, the Ullands' predecessors in interest, and the Welches, the Banfields' predecessors in interest, to reconstruct the common driveway so that it would meet the improved road. To memorialize their negotiations, the Pidgeons and the County signed an agreement to reconstruct a portion of the driveway (ARD) along a new centerline described in the agreement. A few days later, the Pidgeons and the Welches signed a Joint Use Agreement (JUA) providing for the construction and joint use of the new driveway. The Pelleys did not sign the JUA. Both agreements were recorded in King County.

Approximately two months later, the Ullands purchased from the Pidgeons the property they now own. The statutory warranty deed showing the conveyance states that the property is subject to the original easement, the 1984 amendment, the ARD, and the JUA.

After the new driveway was completed in July 1992, the Ullands claimed that the Banfields and the County could not use it because the construction had destroyed the easement. In August 1993, the County (the successor to the Pelleys) and the Banfields commenced this declaratory judgment action to obtain a ruling that they owned an easement coinciding with the driveway as reconstructed. They also sought a judgment quieting title and an injunction to prevent the Ullands from interfering with their access across the easement. In December 1993, the County and the Banfields moved for summary judgment. The court granted the motion and ruled that the easement is valid and located where the County had built the new driveway.

Thereafter, the same parties again moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that (1) the ARD and JUA were valid, (2) the County had not unlawfully taken the Ullands' property, (3) the Ullands were not entitled to assert inverse condemnation or nuisance claims, and (4) the Ullands were not entitled to CR 11 sanctions. The court also ruled that other issues remained for trial. The Ullands nonsuited those issues and appealed both summary judgment orders.

When we review an order granting summary judgment, we engage in the same inquiry as the trial court. *fn2 CR 56(c) permits a trial court to grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." "All facts and reasonable inferences are considered in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all questions of law are reviewed de novo." *fn3 A material fact is one upon which the outcome of the litigation depends. *fn4 Summary judgment is not proper if reasonable minds could draw different Conclusions from undisputed facts or if all of the facts necessary to determine the issues are not present. *fn5 The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate, but the nonmoving party ...


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