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Hinshaw v. M-C-M Props., LLC

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

December 9, 2014

PAUL A. HINSHAW, Respondent,
v.
M-C-M PROPERTIES, LLC, et al., Appellants

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BOONE COUNTY. THE HONORABLE MARY (JODIE) C. ASEL, JUDGE.

Michael R. Whitworth, Columbia, MO, for appellant.

Garrett S. Taylor, Columbia, MO, for respondent.

BEFORE DIVISION ONE: MARK D. PFEIFFER, PRESIDING JUDGE, LISA WHITE HARDWICK AND KAREN KING MITCHELL, JUDGES. ALL CONCUR.

OPINION

Lisa White Hardwick, Judge

Page 824

M-C-M Properties, LLC (" M-C-M" ) appeals the circuit court's interpretation of a deed that grants Paul Hinshaw an easement for ingress and egress over M-C-M's property. For reasons explained herein, we reverse the circuit court's judgment and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Factual and Procedural History

M-C-M owns property located at 1407 Ross Street in Columbia, Missouri. Hinshaw owns the property situated directly to the west at 1403 Ross Street. The dispute between the parties centers around language in a 1924 deed that grants Hinshaw an easement over the entirety of M-C-M's property " to lay, maintain, and operate a sewer together with the right for ingress and egress on and over and through" M-C-M's property. Interpreting the language of the 1924 deed, we must determine whether the " right for ingress and egress" is incidental to the easement to " lay, maintain, and operate a sewer," or is instead a general ingress and egress easement independent from the sewer easement.

On October 7, 1924, J.R.C. Schwabe and his wife conveyed property that is now known as 1403 Ross to Frank Naylor by deed. The property conveyed was legally described as:

A part of Lots Number Six (6) and Seven (7) in Bouchelle's Addition to the City of Columbia, Missouri, described as follows: Beginning at a point 116 feet 8 inches East of the Southwest corner of Lot Number Six (6), thence North parallel with Lee Street one hundred Thirty-two (132) feet five (5) inches, thence West parallel with Ross Street fifty eight (58) feet four (4) inches, thence South parallel with Lee Street One Hundred Thirty Two (132) feet five (5) inches, thence East Fifty-eight (58) feet four (4) inches to point of beginning.

(Emphasis added.) The deed then separately granted an easement to Mr. Naylor. The easement language in the 1924 deed reads in pertinent part:

Page 825

Party of first part hereby grants to party of second part his heirs or assigns an easement to lay, maintain and operate a sewer together with the right of ingress and egress on and over and through the following described lands, to-wit: A part of lots 6 and 7 in [Bouchelle]'s Addition to the City of Columbia, Missouri, beginning at a point 116 feet 8 inches East of the Southwest corner of Lot 6, thence North parallel with Lee Street 132 feet 5 inches, thence East 58 feet 4 inches, thence South 132 feet 5 inches, thence West 58 feet 4 inches to point of beginning.

(Emphasis added.) The effect of the conveyance language was to deed Mr. Naylor fee simple title to the tract now known as 1403 Ross, and to grant Mr. Naylor easement rights over the entirety of a tract of virtually identical size lying immediately to the east of 1403 Ross. The tract over which the easement rights were granted is now known as 1407 Ross.

Frank Naylor owned the dominant property at 1403 Ross until his death. On July 12, 2000, the property was conveyed to Hinshaw by a trustee's deed.[1] The servient property at 1407 Ross was earlier conveyed to M-C-M on January 2, 1998, " subject to the easements and restrictions of record" --which included the easement established in the 1924 deed.

The current dispute between the parties arose from the use of a driveway located on M-C-M's property. The driveway is a " U-shaped" driveway that enters from Ross Street onto Hinshaw's property, wraps around the house situated on Hinshaw's property, and exits through M-C-M's property back onto Ross Street, running parallel to the east/west property line between the two tracts. Hinshaw testified that because tenant vehicles would often block the portion of the driveway located on his property, he and his maintenance personnel would use the portion of the driveway located on M-C-M's property in order to access his own property. Hinshaw testified that he had used the driveway on M-C-M's property in such a manner since he purchased his property in July 2000. In September 2010, however, M-C-M placed a fence near the property line between the two properties, blocking Hinshaw's access to the portion of the driveway located on M-C-M's property.

On September 1, 2011, Hinshaw filed suit in the Boone County Circuit Court, seeking damages for interference with the easement rights set forth in the 1924 deed; to enjoin M-C-M from interfering with Hinshaw's right to ingress and egress on the portion of the driveway situated on M-C-M's property; and alternatively for adverse possession of the portion of M-C-M's property being used by Hinshaw as a driveway. Hinshaw claimed that the 1924 deed granted a general ingress and egress easement over the 1407 Ross tract. M-C-M brought a counterclaim seeking to eject Hinshaw from the M-C-M property as well as to quiet title. The parties submitted the 1924 deed to the circuit court for interpretation.

The court concluded that the language of the deed unambiguously gave Hinshaw " an easement to (lay,) maintain and operate a ...


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