GENE L. FRANKLIN and CONNIE JOHNSON, EXECUTORS OF THE FAE BLACK ESTATE; GENE L. FRANKLIN, CONNIE JOHNSON, CURTIS L. FRANKLIN, JULIE PEDRICK, BRUCE FRANKLIN, and GREOGRY S. FRANKLIN, Plaintiffs-Appellees/Cross-Appellants,
MICHAEL JOHNSTON, ELIZABETH JOHNSTON, STEVE JOHNSTON, and JUDITH YEAGER, Defendants-Appellants/Cross-Appellees, and KASONDRA JOHNSTON and JAMES YEAGER, Defendants.
from the Iowa District Court for Van Buren County, Randy S.
defendants appeal the district court's ruling of a
prescriptive easement. The plaintiffs cross-appeal the
district court's dimensions of said easement.
C. Helling (until withdrawal) and Vanessa M. Y. Willman
(until withdrawal) of Foss, Kuiken & Cochran, P.C.,
Fairfield, for appellants.
Michael C. Vance of Vance Law Office, Mt. Pleasant, for
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield,
(Mike) Johnston, Elizabeth Johnston, Steve Johnston, and
Judith Yeager (the Johnstons) appeal, and Gene Franklin and
Connie Johnson (the Franklins) cross-appeal, the district
court's ruling following a remand from our court. See
Franklin v. Johnston, No. 15-2047, 2017 WL 1086205, at
*13-14 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2017). The Johnstons and the
Franklins are owners of adjacent property. After years of
litigation, both at the district court and appellate court
levels, the parties again appeal, asserting the district
court's ruling on the Johnstons' dock and shoreline
area was incorrect. The Johnstons assert they should have
been granted fee simple ownership of the disputed area rather
than a prescriptive easement, and the Franklins claim the
district court should have included restrictions for the size
and location of the dock and the width of the shoreline. We
affirm the district court's grant of a prescriptive
easement but order the boundaries of the easement area be
limited to the dimensions requested by the Franklins.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Pauline Estle, the Johnstons' predecessors in title,
decided to construct a lake, and their neighbors, James and
Fae Franklin, granted them a "perpetual easement"
to overflow onto their land. The agreement was executed in
April 1962 with James and Fae Franklin granting
a perpetual easement for the right to occasion overflow by
water from the land of the [Estles] to and on and over the
lands of [James and Fae Franklin] such as would be occasioned
by the construction of a dam not to exceed forty (40) feet in
height in a ditch located on the land of the [Estles] which
ditch traverses the property of [James and Fae Franklin], and
[the Estles] are hereby granted the perpetual right to erect
and maintain such dam and thereby occasion an overflow of
water onto and over such portion of [James and Fae
Franklin's] land as may be occasioned by the construction
of said dam . . . .
agreement goes on to stipulate each parties' rights and
restrictions. The Estles' and the Franklins'
successors in interest are the current parties to this
action-the plaintiffs-appellees, the Franklins, and the
defendants-appellants, the Johnstons.
Franklins brought suit in May 2013, after the Johnstons
prohibited them from using any part of the lake covering the
Johnstons' land. Trial was held on September 15, 16, 17,
20, and 22, 2015. On November 5, 2015, the district court
made several findings, but pertinent to this appeal were
findings that both parties may use the entire lake for
fishing and any other lawful purpose and that the boundary
line was the fence on the north side of the lake. The
Johnstons appealed to our court, and the Franklins
March 2017 opinion, our court stated,
We . . . agree with the district court's conclusion that
the Franklins have proven a prescriptive easement to use the
entire lake. We affirm the district court's rejection of
the Johnstons' claim of a boundary by acquiescence
through and on the south side of the lake due to the lack of
clear evidence to support the claim . . . .
. . . . However, we remand this matter to the district court
so that it may expand its decision with respect to the
shoreline and dock near Mike Johnston's property. On
remand the parties may offer to the district court evidence
and legal argument to support their claim for the proper
designation of this property. However, Mike Johnston's
use of ...