Stichting Mayflower Mountain Fonds and Stichting Mayflower Recreation Fonds, Appellants,
United Park City Mines Company, REDUS Park City LLC, Empire Pass Master Owners Association, Inc., and Red Cloud Homeowners Association, Appellees.
Direct Appeal Third District, Silver Summit The Honorable
Ryan M. Harris No. 050500430
C. Coburn, Steven H. Bergman, Brad M. Liddell, Salt Lake
City, for appellants
K. Taylor, Nicole M. Deforge, Salt Lake City, for appellees.
Associate Chief Justice Lee authored the opinion of the
Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Justice Durham,
Justice Himonas, and Justice Pearce joined.
ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE
This case involves a dispute over a mining road built on
Flagstaff Mountain (near Park City) over a century ago. The
plaintiffs are Stichting Mayflower Mountain Fonds and
Stichting Mayflower Recreation Fonds (collectively
"Mayflower"). Defendants in the suit are owners of
land traversed by the road.
Plaintiffs have asserted a right to use the road (1) as a
public highway under the Mining Act of 1866 (R.S. 2477) and
the 1880 Utah Highway Act, and (2) under a common law
prescriptive easement claim. In a motion to amend their
complaint, plaintiffs also sought to add an appurtenant
The district court dismissed Mayflower's public roads and
prescriptive easement claims on summary judgment. It also
denied Mayflower's motion for leave to file a second
amended complaint. We affirm.
Mayflower's public roads claim fails because Mayflower
has not presented sufficient evidence of the road's
"public use" for a sufficient period of time. The
common law prescriptive easement claim also fails because the
evidence and arguments presented by Mayflower on appeal were
not preserved in the district court below. Finally, as to the
denial of Mayflower's motion for leave to file a second
amended complaint, we affirm in light of the substantial
discretion afforded district courts under rule 15(a) of our
Rules of Civil Procedure.
Mayflower is the successor to a chain of title to mining
claims dating from 1871 on Flagstaff Mountain near Park City.
According to Mayflower, historical records from the
predecessor of the Bureau of Land Management show that
prospectors and mine claimants built two miles of road from
Park City to the mine in or around 1871. These claimants were
granted a mining patent, and thus ownership to the mine and
rights of access to their claims.
Notes kept by prospectors from nearby mines refer to a wagon
road heading south from Park City to the mines. The
historical record does not tell us who built the road. But it
seems a fair inference that the road was built by the
Flagstaff mine claimants; the record identifies no one else
who likely would have constructed it.
Mayflower seeks to trace the "public use" of the
road in question to 1871. It notes that prospectors began
using the road to access Flagstaff Mountain at that time. And
it claims that public use continued uninterrupted until 2006,
when a new subdivision (Red Cloud) "obliterated"
parts of the road. This use, in Mayflower's view, turned
the road into a public highway, conferring rights on
Mayflower (and the public generally) to use it.
Mayflower asserted such rights in this litigation. It filed
its initial complaint in late 2005. That complaint formally
appears to have raised only a common law prescriptive
easement claim (though Mayflower insists that other claims
were asserted implicitly).
The case languished for a time. After the parties filed their
initial pleadings, there was no activity on the case for
about a year and a half. This led the district court to order
the parties to appear and explain why the case should not be
dismissed. But the district court did not dismiss the case.
Instead it noted that it anticipated a request for a hearing
on a motion for preliminary injunction would be filed within
sixty days. And it allowed the case to move forward on the
basis of that expectation.
For the next two years the only activity in the case was a
single deposition. In June 2009, the district court again
ordered the parties "to show cause why this case should
not be dismissed." Order to Show Cause, June 25,
2009. And again the case was not dismissed. Instead it
was consolidated with a similar pending suit-a suit brought
by Silver Cloud Properties seeking an easement over a roadway
that crossed property owned by United Park City and that
connected Silver Cloud's property with the highway.
A little over a year later Mayflower moved to amend its
complaint, seeking to clarify "that plaintiff's
rights include the right of use of public roads which extend
to roads in which plaintiff's rights may be
prescriptive." Memorandum in Support of Motion to
Amend, December 22, 2010 at 2. The district court
granted Mayflower's motion. In the amended complaint
Mayflower "claim[ed] a right to a prescriptive easement
over and across the Easement Property on the Easement Roads,
and as a beneficiary of the public rights-of-way."
Amended Complaint, December 22, 2010 at 4.
The defendants filed a motion for partial judgment on the
pleadings, asserting that Mayflower had "failed to state
a claim that any property at issue is a dedicated public
road." Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings,
December 22, 2011 at 2. The district court denied the
motion. But the court sua sponte ordered Mayflower
to "make full and complete disclosures of their claims
and evidence in this case." Order Denying Motion for
Partial Judgment, March 8, 2012 at 2. And the court
warned that failure to do so "shall result in
[Mayflower] being unable to use the individual, document, or
evidence in further proceedings." Id. This was
because the district court found Mayflower's claims to be
"somewhat cryptic in nature, " and thus "d[id]
not put [defendants] on adequate notice regarding what [was]
claimed." Id. The March 2012 district court
order also required Mayflower to "provide the specific
statute or case law they allege supports their claim to a
public or private road, " with failure to do so
"result[ing] in [Mayflower] being unable to proceed with
their claim." Id. at 3.
Mayflower's disclosures included at least a common-law
prescriptive easement claim and a public road claim under a
longstanding federal statute (the federal Mining Act of 1866,
or more commonly, R.S. 2477). The parties disagree on whether the claims
extend further. Mayflower contends that it also included
claims for an appurtenant easement and for private right of
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting
that (1) Mayflower cannot prove as a matter of law that the
roads crossing defendants' land were established as
public roads; and (2) Mayflower cannot prove the requirement
of adverse use, which is necessary for a prescriptive
easement claim. The district court ruled on that motion in an
order issued in August 2012. In that order, the court granted
the motion as to the prescriptive easement claim but denied
it on the public road claim. (Nowhere in the district
court's order, or in either party's summary judgment
briefing, is there any discussion of any other claims.)
After the entry of this order, additional defendants were
allowed to intervene, Mayflower's counsel withdrew and
was replaced, and the district court re-opened discovery for
all parties. During that discovery, in early 2014, a defense
expert asserted (in a deposition) that Mayflower's two
easement claims, including the appurtenant easement claim,
were no longer part of the case due to the district
court's August 2012 order. In response, Mayflower filed a
motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. And in
the memorandum in support of the motion Mayflower argued that
the complaint would not put forth new theories or claims, but
merely clarify those already proffered.
The district court denied Mayflower's motion on two
independent grounds. First, it concluded that the amendment
was not appropriate under the standard set forth in Utah Rule
of Civil Procedure 15(a) because Mayflower had waited so long
to add these claims and lacked a good explanation for the
delay. Second, the court held that two new claims-appurtenant
easement and private right of access-were barred by the
court's earlier (March 2012) order because Mayflower had
not identified these claims in its pretrial disclosures
required by that order.
Both Mayflower and the defendants filed motions for summary
judgment on the last remaining claim-the one relating to
public roads. The district court denied Mayflower's
motion and granted defendants' motion.
Mayflower filed this appeal. It challenges the dismissal of
its prescriptive easement and public roads claims on summary
judgment and the denial of its motion to file a second
Mayflower has also challenged the standing of one of the
defendants-United Park City Mines Company-to defend the
district court's judgment on this appeal. Mayflower notes
that United Park City sold some of the property in question
while this case was pending on appeal. It claims that this
transaction divested Mayflower of any remaining interest in
the roads that are the subject of this appeal. And because
the roads allegedly traverse property now owned not by United
Park City but by REDUS Park City LLC (REDUS), Mayflower
asserts that United Park City no longer has standing to
participate further in this appeal. It also has raised the
question whether REDUS should be substituted for United Park
City under Utah Rule of Appellate Procedure 38(c).
We entered an order directing the substitution of REDUS for
United Park City in part-"to the extent REDUS now owns
property previously held by [United Park City]."
Order, April 1, 2016. In addition, we asked REDUS to
clarify whether it intended to be represented by counsel for
United Park City and to adopt the briefs submitted by United
Park City. REDUS subsequently indicated an intent to step
into United Park City's shoes "with respect to the
properties" sold by United Park City to REDUS.
Motion, April 5, 2016. And counsel made an
appearance and argued for both appellees.
The above moots the standing issue raised by Mayflower.
Because REDUS adopted United Park City's briefing in this
case, and because the same counsel appeared and represented
the interests of both appellees at oral argument, we see no
need to sort through the record to determine whether or to
what extent the property still owned by United Park City is
implicated by this appeal. Both REDUS and United Park City
are represented by the same counsel and advance the same
arguments on this appeal. So we need not decide whether and
to what extent one or the other of these appellees may have
standing to defend ...