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Trappe v. Luana Savings Bank

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 23, 2013

NATHAN A. TRAPPE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LUANA SAVINGS BANK and MICHAEL C. COOK, Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clayton County, John J. Bauercamper, Judge.

The plaintiff appeals, and the defendants cross-appeal, from the district court's order issuing an injunction restricting the defendants' use of an easement.

James Burns of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty & Parrish, Decorah, for appellant.

Dale L. Putnam, Decorah, for appellees.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

DOYLE, J.

Nathan Trappe appeals, and Luana Savings Bank and Michael Cook ("Cook") cross-appeal, from the district court order interpreting an easement and issuing an injunction restricting Cook's use of the easement. We affirm on appeal, and reverse and remand on cross-appeal.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

The properties at issue are two century-old adjacent two-story brick commercial buildings located in downtown Monona. The two buildings adjoin on one side, face a city street to the south, and back to an alley to the north.

In the 1970s, the two buildings were owned by the Greens (east building) and the Gramlichs (west building). The Greens and Gramlichs operated retail and services businesses on the main floors of the buildings. The back of each building was equipped with a loading dock, and the businesses required access to the alley to unload freight into the rear doors of the buildings.

At some point the Greens and Gramlichs became aware that a strip of land located behind the Gramlichs' building and abutting the alley was actually owned by the Greens. In 1977, they entered into and recorded a quit claim deed and agreement to resolve the potential impediment to the use and value of their properties. The document sets forth legal descriptions of both properties and stated, in relevant part:

WHEREAS, the two property descriptions shown above overlap, causing confusion and uncertainty as to the correct boundary line.
NOW, THEREFORE, the parties hereby agree as follows. . . . .
Greens . . . grant to Gramlichs an easement over and across that part of Greens' property lying between the northern boundary of Gramlichs' property and the City alley to the North for the purpose of ingress to and egress from the buildings located on Gramlichs' property. Gramlichs agree that said easement will not be used in any manner which will interfere with Greens' use of their property. ...

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