District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Andrew H.
Stone No. 110916014
Van Frank, Stephen T. Hester, and Bradley M. Strassberg,
Attorneys for Appellant
M. Belnap and Alan R. Houston, Attorneys for Appellees
Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Gregory K. Orme and Kate Appleby concurred.
This dispute involves whether Appellees Zdenek Sorf (Mr.
Sorf), CNC Machine and Design Inc., and FRS Leasing LLC
(collectively, Sorf) have an implied easement over property
belonging to Bridge BLOQ NAC LLC. The trial court ruled that
an easement existed. Bridge appeals, and we affirm.
Bridge and Sorf own adjoining properties separated by a paved
alley. Bridge owns the east property and Sorf owns the west
property. The alley, which is the subject of this dispute, is
on Bridge's property.
On each property sits a building-the east building and the
west building. The west building is approximately one foot
from the boundary line between the two properties. The east
building is approximately thirty feet to the east of the same
Both properties were once owned by Sorf's predecessor, a
company formed by Mr. Sorf and a business partner (Partner).
In 2001, the east property was conveyed to Partner, while
Sorf retained the west property. After the properties were
severed, Sorf continued to use the alley in the same manner
it was used before severance. Specifically, Sorf used the
alley for ingress and egress, received deliveries to the west
building through the alley, and parked in the alley. In
addition, before and after severance, a tenant of the west
building (Tenant) was given exclusive use of two parking
spaces in the southernmost part of the alley. Tenant
testified at trial that without those spots, it would
"probably have to move" out of the west building.
Six years after severance, a dispute developed between Sorf
and Partner regarding rights to the alley. Sorf filed a
Notice of Easement, stating that "[a]n easement . . . in
the alley is claimed for pedestrian and vehicle access for
the entire length of the alley, for all parking stalls
located therein, for garbage receptacles and for storage of
raw materials, storage of metal bars and ingots, pallets, and
machinery." The Notice of Easement further claimed that
Sorf and its predecessors had used the alley
"continuously for fifty-one (51) years."
Through a series of conveyances, the east property- including
the alley-came to belong to Bridge, which subsequently
brought suit to quiet title. Sorf counterclaimed, requesting
(as relevant here) a declaratory judgment upholding the
existence of an implied easement.
As the litigation proceeded, Mr. Sorf was deposed. He
testified that when he severed the properties in 2001, he
intended to split "everything 50/50" and that he
would have "never agree[d]" to someone else owning
the alley. He also testified that "from day one, [he]
ke[pt] using that property as [his] property . . . for [the]
next six years" until he found out he did not own it.
"That's when I start[ed] fighting back,"
explained Mr. Sorf, "because this was not the
Mr. Sorf expressed similar sentiments in two declarations. In
the first, he stated,
[Partner] and I agreed to dissolve our business relationship
in the year 2001 and at that time we agreed that the alley
would be split 50-50, just as we had discussed previously,
and that the alley would continue to be used as in the past.
I did not know the alley was part of the property deeded to
[Partner] when we ended our relationship, and I believed that
we had divided the alley equally.
second declaration, he confirmed,
I NEVER would have agreed to conveyance of the east property
to [Partner] if I had known that the alley was located on the
east property because the alley is critical to the operation
of [the west property].
Based partly on these statements, Bridge moved for summary
judgment on Sorf's sole remaining counterclaim for an
implied easement. It argued that there was "no basis to
imply" the intent necessary for an implied easement,
because "Sorf has made his intent clear by virtue of his
. . . sworn testimony in this case." Bridge reasoned
that "Sorf intended to own half of the alley,
not have permission to use it." (Emphasis added.)
Because Mr. Sorf stated that he never would have conveyed the
east property and ...