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D.F.S., LLC v. Calaveras Murphy Properties

March 22, 2011

D.F.S., LLC, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
CALAVERAS MURPHY PROPERTIES, DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT.



(Super. Ct. No. CV29548)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz, J.

D.F.S. v. Calaveras Murphy Properties

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

COPY

In this litigation between two rural property owners, the trial court rejected the claim of plaintiff and appellant D.F.S., LLC (DFS), to an appurtenant easement over the land of defendant and respondent Calaveras Murphy Properties.

DFS filed this appeal, disagreeing with the trial court's findings that it did not have an easement under any of the theories it tendered below. We find no reversible error and shall affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Early History of the Rosella Mine and Surrounding Properties

Three contiguous properties are the subject of this action. We shall refer to them as the Murphy Ranch, the Watson Ranch and the Rosella Mine. (A fourth parcel known as the Pioneer Mine is not at issue here.) The easement in dispute is a road that begins at the eastern border of the Watson Ranch property, traverses over the Murphy Ranch property, and connects to a county road, which is now Highway 4.*fn1

Prior to 1900, all of the properties were owned by Richmond L. Gardner and his wife. Around that year, the Gardners and other individuals formed the Rosella Mining and Milling Company (the Rosella Mining Company). The Rosella Mining Company's board of directors then passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of the Rosella Mine, 29 acres of land just south of the Pioneer Mine, which was wholly surrounded by the Gardners's property.

The Gardners conveyed the Rosella Mine to themselves and the partners of the Rosella Mining Company. By deed recorded May 17, 1900, the grantees conveyed the Rosella Mine to the Rosella Mining Company. No easement is described in these deeds.

The 1915 Deeds

In 1915, two deeds were recorded, by which the Gardners sold their remaining property. These deeds, which appear at pages 309 and 312 of the Calaveras County Recorder's Book of Deeds, were referred to at trial as "the 309 deed" and "the 312 deed," respectively.

The 309 deed was executed on April 7, 1913. In it, the Gardners conveyed 1,281.33 acres of their property to Walter Murphy. This parcel became known as the Watson Ranch. The 309 deed excepted the previously conveyed Rosella Mine and also reserved a right-of-way for a 12-foot-wide "wagon road" from the Rosella Mine to the land owned by the Gardners to the east. An early map showed there was a road over the Gardners's property connecting with the County Highway. However, there is no indication there existed a wagon road between the Rosella Mine and the Gardners's property.

By virtue of the 312 deed, which was executed on August 9, 1915, two years after the 309 deed, the Gardners transferred to Walter Murphy their remaining property, now known as the Murphy Ranch.

Like the 309 deed, the 312 deed excepted the Rosella Mine. At the same time, the deed reserved to the Gardners and their "heirs and assigns," a 12-foot-wide right-of-way "as direct as convenient from said excepted premises[,] [the Rosella Mine,]" to ...


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