Dawson v. Jones

Decision Date11 September 1987
Docket NumberNo. 86-2373,86-2373
Citation512 So.2d 311,12 Fla. L. Weekly 2226
Parties12 Fla. L. Weekly 2226 Roy DAWSON, Individually, and Roy Dawson Radio Communications, Inc., a New Jersey corporation, Appellants, v. Martin J. JONES, Gerry Chancey and Connie Chancey, Frank B. Trent and Ina D. Trent, Kenneth L. Huggins and Margaret S. Huggins, C. Mitchell Smith and Dorothy J. Smith, Herbert Oswald Mahn and Ida Mahn, James E. Waldron, Wilma L. Powell, Harry K. Wooldridge and Shirley J. Wooldridge, and Southwind Airpark Association, Inc., a Florida corporation, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Robert E. Pyle, of Law Offices of Robert E. Pyle, Lake Alfred, for appellants.

Thomas L. Boll, of Murphy & Clark, P.A., Lakeland, for appellees.

SCHEB, Acting Chief Judge.

Appellants, Roy Dawson and Roy Dawson Radio Communications, Inc., challenge a final judgment enjoining them from interfering with appellees' easements and awarding damages to appellees.

Appellants contend the trial court erred in awarding other than nominal damages, in enjoining them from ceasing airport operations without one year's prior notice to appellees, and in ruling that appellees could apply to renew the appellants' airport license. We find merit to appellants' contentions.

The individual appellees own either improved or unimproved parcels of land adjacent to South Lakeland Airpark, an airport owned and operated by appellants. In their amended complaint, appellees alleged that they owned easements which granted them use of the appellants' airport runway and taxiway for ingress and egress to the runway. They claimed that appellants had "hassled" them, indicated an intention to close the airport and turn it into a subdivision, failed to maintain the runway, and generally interfered with their easement rights.

Appellees prayed for a declaratory judgment adjudicating the rights of the parties. Specifically, they sought to enjoin appellants from violating their easement rights and to assess damages for the devaluation of their properties caused by the appellants' interference. In addition, appellee Trent sought damages for his alleged loss of the "benefit of the bargain" in his attempt to sell his property.

Appellants' answered, asserting that they had acted within their discretion and in conformity with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations to facilitate the safety, security, and drainage of the airport and to prevent aircraft from entering the middle of the runway.

At trial, appellees testified to appellants' destruction and blocking of the connector taxiways to the runway by putting up a fence, poles, and by digging a four to five foot cut through the connector taxiways. They also mentioned appellants' failure to adequately maintain the runway and appellants' attempts to limit the use of the runway and to harass appellees and their guests. The evidence disclosed that the period of interference varied from approximately two to six years depending on when appellees purchased their properties. Appellees were inconvenienced in their use and enjoyment of their easements. They were, however, not completely deprived of access to the runway. Nevertheless, in at least one instance an easement holder's access to the runway was dependent on the use of a neighbor's property.

Depositions admitted into evidence established that on two separate occasions prospective buyers refused to purchase appellee Trent's property after talking with appellant Dawson. One even refused to buy it at a substantial discount. Yet, appellee Trent offered no evidence of having suffered a monetary loss. The only other evidence offered by appellees to prove their damages was the estimates given by appellees as to the value of their individual properties both before and during the period of appellants' interference.

At the conclusion of a non-jury trial, the court found that each appellee, except Wilma L. Powell, had a valid and subsisting easement. The court ordered appellants to immediately remove any fence, poles, or other obstructions and to restore the connector taxiways to allow appellees' direct access to the runway and taxiways. The court enjoined appellants from verbally or physically harassing appellees, their families or their guests and from ceasing operation of the airport without first giving the easement holders "one (1) year's notice by certified mail with return receipt, of their intention to cease operations." The trial judge's order stated that the cessation of operations at the airport would neither void the appellees' easements nor preclude appellees from utilizing their easements to use the taxiways and runway of the airport unless they failed to renew the airport license. Each appellee, except Wilma Powell "until and unless she perfects her right to the easement," was permitted to apply for or renew the license or licenses necessary to permit the airport to continue functioning.

The trial court also found that the appellees:

have partially lost the use of their properties, during the time of the [appellants'] interference with such easements. The Court has determined that the value of that loss shall be based upon the uncontradicted testimony of each Easement Holder, which was uncontradicted as to the loss of value of each Easement Holder's property using the minimum difference in value. The damages shall be the loss of value multiplied by 3% per annum since Roy Dawson Radio Communications, Inc. purchased the airport or since the individual Easement Holder obtained his easement, whichever occurred later.

The court then awarded appellees varying amounts totalling $49,021.58. This timely appeal ensued.

Appellants first contend that the trial court erred in awarding appellees other than nominal damages. We agree. It is fundamental that those seeking to recover damages must prove with reasonable certainty the damages claimed. It is apparent that appellees suffered certain inconvenience and harassment concerning the use and enjoyment of their easement rights. However, the record is devoid of any evidence that they suffered any permanent loss of value of their properties. Appellee Trent's attempts to dispose of his property may have been thwarted by Dawson's conversations with prospective purchasers, but Trent did not establish that he sustained any "loss of bargain" as a result. The trial court issued its permanent injunction against appellants...

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2 cases
  • Champion's Auto Ferry, Inc. v. Michigan Public Service Com'n, Docket No. 201174
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • October 2, 1998
    ...servitude was meant, is proved by the use of the word 'involuntary,' which can only apply to human beings. Thus, Dawson v. Jones, 512 So.2d 311 (Fla.App., 1987), on which CAF relies, is distinguishable, because there the mandatory injunction at issue was directed at a person, not a With res......
  • Mallock v. Southern Memorial Park, Inc., 89-1068
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • April 17, 1990
    ...1988) ("direct[ing] the lower court, on remand, to award damages for ... interference with ... implied easement"); Dawson v. Jones, 512 So.2d 311, 313 (Fla. 2d DCA 1987) (recognizing right of damages for temporary interference with easement; collecting cases); see also 1A R. Boyer, Florida ......

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