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William S. Hansuld and Tia J. Hansuld v. Lariat Diesel Corporation

December 9, 2010


Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable Scott W. Skavdahl, Judge


Representing William S. Hansuld and Tia J. Hansuld: Larry W. Harrington of Harrington Law Firm, P.C., Casper, Wyoming Representing Lariat Diesel Corporation and Marvin Piel: Thomas M. Hogan, Casper, Wyoming

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT,* and BURKE, JJ.

* Chief Justice at time of oral argument GOLDEN, Justice.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] In these consolidated appeals, two adjoining landowners dispute two separate easements. In appeal No. S-09-0206, the Hansulds appeal a district court finding that they do not have an easement for a water line across the property of Lariat Diesel Corporation. We reverse.

[¶2] In appeal No. S-09-0207, Lariat Diesel Corporation and its president, Marvin Peil, appeal a district court's ruling declining to require a precise description in metes and bounds of the location of an access easement across the Hansulds' property. We reverse.


[¶3] We begin with the facts because both appeals share common facts. This is the second time these parties have been before this Court. See Hansuld v. Lariat Diesel Corp., 2003 WY 165, ¶ 13, 81 P.3d 215, 218 (Wyo. 2003) (Hansuld I). In Hansuld I, this Court related the following facts:

Originally, Chapin and Ratcliff, LLC (LLC) owned both 3100 East Yellowstone and 3110 East Yellowstone, Natrona County, Wyoming. In 1995, LLC owner, Hardy Ratcliff, approached Lariat owner Marvin Piel (Piel) with the thought of selling Lariat both properties located at 3100 and 3110 East Yellowstone. Lariat was interested in 3100 East Yellowstone only and did not require the other lot.

The parties agreed that if Lariat would purchase 3100 East Yellowstone, Lariat would be allowed access over the 3110 East Yellowstone lot for its truck access. Access across 3110 East Yellowstone was key to Lariat's business located at 3100 East Yellowstone. Without it, Lariat could not get heavy trucks in and out of its shop without great difficulty. On July 2, 1995, the LLC sold 3100 East Yellowstone to Lariat.

A little over a year later, on August 5, 1996, the LLC and Gary L. Petley (Petley) entered into a Purchase Agreement concerning the property adjoining Lariat, 3110 East Yellowstone. American Title Company issued a title commitment for the property on August 19,1996.

Some days before the closing date of the sale of 3110 East Yellowstone to Petley, the LLC proposed at a meeting with Lariat that it would give Lariat a formal written ingress and egress easement for customers crossing 3110 East Yellowstone in exchange for Lariat's giving the LLC a sewer "easement" across the Lariat property for the sewer line servicing the adjoining property at 3110 East Yellowstone. Mr. Petley was invited to this meeting because this "reciprocal easement" arrangement would both burden and benefit 3110 East Yellowstone and his proposed purchase. No other consideration was exchanged. Petley understood the arrangement and had no problems with it.

After the meeting and before the closing on 3110 East Yellowstone, the LLC executed and filed an "Access Agreement" that contained a legal description granting egress and ingress over the southerly 100 feet of 3110 East Yellowstone. The Natrona County Clerk filed the "Sewer Easement" at 4:00 p.m. and the "Access Agreement" at 4:02 p.m. on August 30, 1996. Also on that same day, the Petley purchase of 3110 East Yellowstone closed, and the warranty deed was filed with the Natrona County Clerk at 10:41 a.m. The title policy that issued a few days after the closing included the recorded access agreement in the policy for informational purposes.

Petley sold 3110 Yellowstone to Wildcat Whackers on June 25, 1999. Later, Wildcat Whackers listed it for sale with a realtor who noticed the access agreement and consulted an attorney. In the course of soliciting Lariat to buy the property, the realtor indicated to it that the realtor believed the easement was void because it was outside of the chain of title. Lariat summarily rejected the offer to purchase and told the realtor that it believed the easement was valid and enforceable. That same realtor advised Hansulds of the easement, and Hansulds purchased the property on October 31, 2001.

Immediately after purchasing the property at 3110 East Yellowstone, Hansulds notified Lariat that any future access across 3110 East Yellowstone would be denied. Hansulds then constructed a chain link fence along the property line between 3110 and 3100 East Yellowstone and along the East Yellowstone frontage to insure that Lariat had no access across 3110 East Yellowstone. Hansulds filed suit to quiet title and sought a declaratory judgment on the validity of the access agreement. Summary judgment motions were denied, and the case proceeded to a bench trial.

After suit was filed, East Yellowstone Highway, the access road to both parties' property, was straightened, resulting in the abandonment of a portion of the right-of-way by the State of Wyoming. The "Resolution for Abandonment" was filed with the county clerk on September 20, 2001. Wildcat Whackers conveyed the abandoned property to Hansulds by quitclaim deed. The land acquired by Hansulds is approximately forty feet wide and lies between Hansulds' southern boundary and Yellowstone Highway.

The district court found that the abandonment added property to the southerly parts of both Hansulds' and Lariat's properties. The district court determined that the LLC intended to convey an easement for access to the ...

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