|Copyright 2005-2007 All Rights Reserved Charles E. Marunde & FreeRealEstateLaw.com
|Neighbor Blocks Easement With Gate
politely ask the neighbor to remove or at least keep the gates open.
Neighbor refuses and informs Clients that he has every right to do what
he is doing.
After a series of failed attempts to be nice, Clients, see an attorney to find
out what their rights are. The attorney correctly informs them after
researching the property records of both parties, that Clients have a legal
easement for ingress and egress over the neighbor's property, and that
the neighbor cannot just close it off or gate it off.
Of course, Clients are glad to hear this, but they have to pay an attorney
to write a strong letter with all the real estate documentation and
persuasive arguments to the neighbor. The neighbor does not respond
to the letter, and insists on telling Clients that they have seen an attorney
and that they have every right to do what they are doing. Did their
attorney give them good advice? Good question. In this case, no.
Clients file and serve a Summons and Complaint to quiet title to their
easement, and they immediately move for a preliminary injunction to
prohibit the neighbor from blocking the easement.
The judge, who was never an expert in real estate (her practice as a
lawyer consisted of a general practice with an emphasis on criminal law
and divorce law), proceeds to lecture both parties at the hearing about
how she is sick and tired of disputes between neighbors, and how she is
tired of childish behavior, and that it is unfortunate that the court and
everyone else has to spend so much time on this kind of nonsense. The
judge does grant a temporary injunction, but she does not make the
neighbor keep the gates open, although in a subsequent hearing, she
orders them not to padlock the gates.
While Clients were glad to get an injunction, it does not change anything,
and they are especially unnerved by the judge's character attack on them
when they have done absolutely nothing wrong, have made every effort
to be a kind and considerate neighbor, and it is the neighbor who is rude,
inconsiderate, has violated their property rights, and is causing Clients to
have to go through all this stress and expense.
This goes on for months, and Clients are frustrated because the neighbor
still has his gates closed, although they are no longer padlocked. Client
has to stop his vehicle near the gate, get out to open the first gate, drive
through, stop and get out to close the gate, and do it all again for the
second gate. The neighbor has three dogs, and two children, and the
judge agreed with neighbor that the gates should be kept closed.
One day while Clients are driving through the easement, and getting in
and out of their vehicle (very annoying), the neighbor's dogs attack them.
Clients are both bitten. Clients have to hire another attorney to deal with
the dog bite issue, because these issues are way beyond the original
judge, and the causes of action are different and involve different legal
arguments. Clients are now having to write another attorney a substantial
retainer, and they will attend a whole new set of depositions, draft and
respond to written interrogatories, and deal with various other pleadings,
motions, and eventually a trial, which is one year away, if they are lucky
and their trial date doesn't get bumped by a criminal priority.
Although the judge's order prohibits either party from doing anything,
neighbor starts building a fence along the outside of the easement.
There's already a fence there, but he is building one that he will
apparently call his own fence. Clients go back to court to get a contempt
order and to stop neighbor, which the judge does grant.
Clients have now paid several thousand dollars in attorney's fees, have
made numerous appearances in court hearings, and nothing has
changed. The neighbor still has a gate across the property.
At this point, Clients are so frustrated and stressed they begin to think
they had better do something, like hire another attorney, because maybe
the first attorney doesn't know how to handle their case. Ultimately, after
one to two years, the case will go to trial, and the result? Flip a coin. I'm
not kidding. Ask anyone with experience and who is bluntly honest about
this, and they will tell you your chance of winning is 50-50. You can be
right in the facts and right on the law, and your chance of winning is . . . a
flip of the coin.
I have practiced law since 1986 in court rooms around the state of
Washington, and this is a very typical case for an easement dispute of
this kind. I believe judge's have become politically correct, are concerned
about offending anyone, and lack wisdom in dealing with such conflicts.
On top of that, there is a great deal of greed in the legal profession, and
the cost of litigating has become ridiculous. When you find an honest
attorney who is competent and trustworthy, hang on to him. They are
Clients, husband and wife, are
retired and live a relatively private
life. They have an easement across
the neighbor's property to the main
road. The neighbor is building a
house, which has taken several
years so far and does not appear to
be near completion. Without any
dialogue or notice, the neighbor
puts two gates across the
easement, one at each end, and he
padlocks the gates. Clients are
astonished that anyone would be so
bold and so rude, and Clients
|NOTE: It is unfortunate, but not all attorneys are honest. Surprised?
Even if the opposing attorney is honest, not all attorneys are intelligent
about real estate law? Surprised? Even if the opposing attorney is
honest, and even if he is intelligent, not all attorneys are reasonable.
Even if the opposing attorney is honest, intelligent, and reasonable, he
may still be motivated by money to not tell his own clients the precise
truth about the law and the appropriate resolution. Surprised? Don't be.
This is reality. The bigger the fight, the more the attorneys make. Few
in the legal profession like to talk about it or admit it.
|NOTE: It is this author's strong conviction that very few judges are
truly wise anymore. In cases like this where there is one good honest
party and one immoral and reckless party, judges seem to have
absolutely no ability to discern between them, and throw them both into
the same category of disputing neighbors. That attitude characterizes
the entire litigation, and is extremely frustrating for the person of
integrity who expects justice.
Here is Marunde's
Number 1 Rule in the
Courtroom: The liar
always has the
advantage in the
Why? Lifetime liars
are very persuasive,
while truth tellers will
pause and stammer in
their attempt to
Judges no longer have
the discernment to
liars are given equal or
greater credibility on
the witness stand.
Furthermore, judges in
civil cases do
In a very strange way
of thinking, the judge
was upset at both
parties about this dog
bite issue, as though
the victim Clients
This is a common problem in Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington.