Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC, No. 49308-0-II

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtMaxa, A.C.J.
Citation200 Wash.App. 178,401 P.3d 468
Decision Date15 August 2017
Docket NumberNo. 49308-0-II
Parties ZONNEBLOEM, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Mandl Holdings, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Respondents/Cross-Appellants, v. BLUE BAY HOLDINGS, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Appellant/Cross-Respondent.

200 Wash.App. 178
401 P.3d 468

ZONNEBLOEM, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Mandl Holdings, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Respondents/Cross-Appellants,
v.
BLUE BAY HOLDINGS, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Appellant/Cross-Respondent.

No. 49308-0-II

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2.

August 15, 2017


Averil Budge Rothrock, Milt Reimers, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC, 1420 5th Ave., Ste. 3400, Seattle, WA, 98101-4010, for Appellant/Cross-Respondent.

David P. Horton, Templeton Horton Weibel PLLC, 3212 N.W. Byron St., Ste. 104, Silverdale, WA, 98383-9154, for Respondents/Cross-Appellants.

PART PUBLISHED OPINION

Maxa, A.C.J.

200 Wash.App. 180

¶1 Blue Bay Holdings, LLC appeals the trial court's summary judgment order dismissing its damages claim against Zonnebloem, LLC and Mandl Holdings, LLC for interference with a prescriptive easement that Blue Bay claimed over Zonnebloem's and Mandl's properties. Blue Bay alleged that its prescriptive easement followed the historical route of an electric power line that went from a power pole on the edge of Zonnebloem's parking lot property, across the Mandl building, and to Blue Bay's building.

¶2 After Blue Bay demolished an existing structure and replaced it with a new building, it asked Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to reconnect the power line to its new building. But PSE required a written easement from Zonnebloem and Mandl before it would reconnect

401 P.3d 470

the line, even if Blue Bay had a prescriptive easement along the power line's historical route. Zonnebloem and Mandl could not agree with PSE on the easement's terms, and Blue Bay was required to obtain power through a different route at significant expense. Blue Bay asserted that Zonnebloem and Mandl's refusal to grant an express easement to PSE constituted a wrongful interference with Blue Bay's use of its claimed prescriptive easement.

¶3 On summary judgment, the trial court dismissed Blue Bay's claim for damages against Zonnebloem and Mandl for wrongful interference with the claimed prescriptive

200 Wash.App. 181

easement. After a bench trial, the court ruled that Blue Bay had established a prescriptive easement.

¶4 In the published portion of this opinion, we hold that although an owner of property subject to an easement has an obligation to not unreasonably interfere with the use of an easement, as a matter of law Zonnebloem and Mandl's refusal to grant an express easement to PSE for an area broader than the prescriptive easement did not constitute unreasonable interference. Therefore, we affirm the trial court's dismissal on summary judgment of Blue Bay's claim for wrongful interference with its prescriptive easement.

¶5 In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we address and reject Zonnebloem and Mandl's claim that the trial court erred in ruling that Blue Bay had a prescriptive easement over their properties and Blue Bay's claim that the trial court erred in ruling that Mandl had acquired a portion of Blue Bay's property by adverse possession. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court on all issues on appeal.

FACTS

Power Access to Blue Bay's Property

¶6 Blue Bay and Mandl own adjoining commercial buildings on Front Street in Poulsbo, and Zonnebloem owns a parking lot located behind those buildings. Historically, a line from a power pole on Zonnebloem's parking lot provided electric power to both the Mandl building and the Blue Bay building. The line connected to the Mandl building before running down the side of that building and connecting to the Blue Bay building. When Blue Bay demolished the existing building on its property, it disconnected the power line.

¶7 Blue Bay subsequently requested that PSE reconnect the power line to its new building. But PSE required a written easement for an area two feet on either side of the power line as it ran from the power pole on the Zonnebloem parking lot to the side of Blue Bay's building. Zonnebloem

200 Wash.App. 182

and Mandl negotiated with PSE, but PSE would not agree to Zonnebloem and Mandl's request to include a termination clause in the easement. Therefore, no easement was executed, PSE would not reconnect the power line along the historical route, and Blue Bay was forced to install a power connection along a different route at a cost of over $50,000. Quiet Title Lawsuit

¶8 In October 2013, Zonnebloem and Mandl filed a complaint against Blue Bay regarding certain property disputes. Blue Bay filed a counterclaim, alleging that it had a prescriptive easement for the power line from the power pole on the Zonnebloem property to the Blue Bay building. Blue Bay also asserted a damages claim based on the allegation that Zonnebloem and Mandl's refusal to grant an express easement with PSE unreasonably interfered with Blue Bay's claimed prescriptive easement.

¶9 Zonnebloem and Mandl filed a motion for summary judgment on Blue Bay's damages claim. The trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed Blue Bay's damages claim for interference with the claimed prescriptive easement.

¶10 Blue Bay appeals the trial court's summary judgment dismissal of its damages claim.

ANALYSIS

A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

¶11 We review summary judgment orders de novo. Keck v. Collins, 184 Wash.2d 358, 370, 357 P.3d 1080 (2015). On summary judgment, we construe all evidence and reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving

401 P.3d 471

party. Id. Summary judgment is appropriate when the record shows "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." CR 56(c) ; see Keck, 184 Wash.2d at 370, 357 P.3d 1080. A fact is material if it affects the case's outcome. Keck, 184 Wash.2d at 370 n.8, 357 P.3d 1080. A genuine issue

200 Wash.App. 183

of material fact exists if the evidence would be sufficient for a reasonable jury to find in favor of the nonmoving party. Id.at 370, 357 P.3d 1080. "If reasonable minds can reach only one conclusion on an issue of fact, that issue may be determined on summary judgment." Sutton v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 180 Wash.App. 859, 865, 324 P.3d 763 (2014).

¶12 On summary judgment, the moving party has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact. Lee v. Metro Parks Tacoma, 183 Wash.App. 961, 964, 335 P.3d 1014 (2014). A moving defendant meets this burden by showing that there is an absence of evidence to support the plaintiff's case. Id. Once the moving party has made such a showing, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts that rebut the moving party's contentions and show a genuine issue of material fact. See Elcon Constr., Inc. v. E. Wash. Univ., 174 Wash.2d 157, 169, 273 P.3d 965 (2012).

B. CLAIM FOR INTERFERENCE WITH A PRESCRIPTIVE EASEMENT

¶13 Blue Bay argues that the trial court erred in dismissing its damages claim for wrongful interference with its claimed prescriptive easement, which it argues occurred when Zonnebloem and Mandl refused to grant a written easement to PSE.1 We disagree.

1. Legal Principles

¶14 An easement is a nonpossessory right to use the land of another. Maier v. Giske, 154 Wash.App. 6, 15, 223 P.3d 1265 (2010). The person who benefits from an easement, known as the easement holder or dominant estate owner, has a property interest in the land subject to the...

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64 practice notes
  • Mackey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., No. 52293-4-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 3, 2020
    ...judgment "has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact." Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 183, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). A moving defendant can meet this burden by establishing that there is a lack of evidence to support the plaintiff’s......
  • Larose v. King Cnty., No. 50858-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 19, 2019
    ...a summary judgment decision. ¶32 We review a trial court’s summary judgment order de novo. Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 182, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). We view all facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovin......
  • Reagan v. Newton, No. 50662-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 5, 2019
    ...summary judgment has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact. Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 183, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). A moving defendant can meet this burden by showing that there is an absence of evidence to support the plaint......
  • Beres v. United States, No. 03-785L
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • April 16, 2019
    ...burdened land in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with the easement. See, e.g., Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC, 401 P.3d 468, 471 (Wash. Ct. App. 2017) (stating that an easement is a "nonpossessory right to use the land of another" and "the owner of a servient estate......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
62 cases
  • Beres v. United States, No. 03-785L
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • April 16, 2019
    ...burdened land in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with the easement. See, e.g., Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC, 401 P.3d 468, 471 (Wash. Ct. App. 2017) (stating that an easement is a "nonpossessory right to use the land of another" and "the owner of a ......
  • Mackey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., No. 52293-4-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 3, 2020
    ..."has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact." Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 183, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). A moving defendant can meet this burden by establishing that there is a lack of evidence to support the plaintiff’......
  • Reagan v. Newton, No. 50662-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 5, 2019
    ...summary judgment has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact. Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 183, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). A moving defendant can meet this burden by showing that there is an absence of evidence to support the plaint......
  • Larose v. King Cnty., No. 50858-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • March 19, 2019
    ...a summary judgment decision. ¶32 We review a trial court’s summary judgment order de novo. Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC , 200 Wash. App. 178, 182, 401 P.3d 468 (2017). We view all facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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