FROM THE CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT [NO.
08WCV-15-27] HONORABLE SCOTT JACKSON, JUDGE
D. Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for
Law Partners, LLP, by: Stevan E. Vowell, for appellee.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE.
a property case in which Julie Shelton brought an action
against Penny Carroll claiming parking rights pursuant to the
language of a deeded easement and, alternatively, pursuant to
claims of a prescriptive easement, and further claiming
damages to her mailbox, real property, and hardwood floors in
her house caused by redirected water after an excavation
project undertaken by Carroll. Following a hearing, the trial
court concluded the deed's language concerning ingress
and egress also contemplated the need for parking on the
easement; alternatively, a necessity for parking had been
proved; and alternatively, a prescriptive easement for
parking had also been established. With respect to
Shelton's claims for water damages, the trial court
concluded Carroll's excavation work had altered the flow
of surface water and caused damage to Shelton's property.
The trial court ordered Carroll to replace Shelton's
concrete parking pad and redirect the flow of surface water
away from Shelton's property (not to exceed $700) to pay
the cost of the mailbox replacement ($54); it denied
Shelton's claim for damages to her hardwood floors
($500), finding that she had not proved causation.
appeals from the portions of the trial court's April 12,
2017 judgment concluding that the deed's easement
language includes parking; that Shelton proved a parking
easement by necessity; and that Shelton also proved a parking
easement by prescription. Shelton cross-appeals the trial
court's denial of her claim for damages to her hardwood
floors. All other claims have been abandoned.
respect to Carroll's appeal, we find error in the trial
court's construction of the deed language but affirm the
alternate finding that Shelton proved a prescriptive easement
for parking. Shelton concedes error regarding the trial
court's finding of necessity. With respect to
Shelton's cross-appeal concerning the hardwood-floor
damage, we affirm the trial court's finding that
causation had not been proved. As mentioned previously, the
other issues have been abandoned.
direct appeal, Carroll contends the trial court erred in its
construction of the easement language to include the right to
park on the easement. We agree.
possible, the intent of a grantor is ascertained from the
language employed in the deed, examining its four corners.
Van Matre v. Davenport, 2017 Ark.App. 703, ___S.W.3d
___. The initial determination of whether the deed is
ambiguous rests with the trial court, and if a deed is not
ambiguous, its meaning is a question of law for the trial
court. C. & A. Constr. Co., Inc. v. Benning
Constr. Co., 256 Ark. 621, 509 S.W.2d 302 (1974). If the
deed is ambiguous, then the trial court may consider parol
evidence to aid in determining the parties' intent, and
the meaning of the deed becomes a question of fact.
Id. On appellate review, we examine the trial
court's determination of whether an ambiguity exists, and
if we conclude there is no ambiguity, then we examine the
deed's meaning as a question of law upon de novo review.
Maxey v. Kossover, 2009 Ark.App. 611.
trial court's April 12, 2017 judgment, it explained,
"Further, from the Court's examination of the
property and proof presented, the Court finds that when the
easement was created, and as the easement was conveyed down
to [Shelton], the parties must have contemplated that the
easement included more than just the right to drive across it
to [Shelton's] house. The Court finds that it is
unreasonable to limit the use of the easement to just driving
in and out." In so holding, the trial court, at a
minimum, impliedly found the easement language to be
ambiguous and then found that the parties must have
contemplated more from the easement than just ingress and
egress. We disagree.
the original document that created the easement in 1968 is
styled "Easement for Road Right of Way" and
contains the following pertinent language:
THAT I, Olive P. Ellis . . . grant . . . an Easement for
ingress and egress over and across the herein described
lands in Eureka Springs, Carroll County, Arkansas, to-wit:
The SW ½ of Lot 15, Block 163, as designated on
R&A Survey Plat. Said lands being further designated and
described as Access Easement on Plat of Survey
prepared by Crafton & Tull, Consuluting Engineers,
Rogers, Arkansas, dated October 15, 1968, filed in Plat Book
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