Davis v. Westphal

405 P.3d 73 (2017)

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Davis v. Westphal

Montana Supreme Court
405 P.3d 73 (2017)

Facts

Monte and Wilhelmine Davis (plaintiffs) were California residents who owned an undeveloped 10-acre tract of land in Montana. Douglas and Kathy Westphal (defendants) owned an adjoining 10-acre tract of land. The Westphals misunderstood the location of the boundary between the properties. Mistaking a portion of the Davises’ property as their own, the Westphals cut down several of the Davises’ trees and built a large workshop and a septic system on the Davises’ land. The Davises sued the Westphals to have the encroachments removed and the land restored. At a preliminary injunction hearing, the Westphals agreed to remove the encroachments and restore the property and the Davises agreed to drop their motion for preliminary injunction. However, after several months, the Westphals failed to start removing the encroachments. The Davises moved for summary judgment and asked the trial court for a declaratory judgment of trespass, an order ejecting the encroachments, and a permanent injunction against construction of improvements that were not in compliance with zoning laws. The Westphals asked for additional time to remove the encroachments. The trial court granted summary judgment and declared that the shop, the septic system, and the tree removals were trespass. However, the trial court found that the Davises had presented insufficient information to determine whether it was necessary to order the immediate removal of the encroachments. Therefore, the court did not order the ejectment of the encroachments, nor did it grant the Davises’ request for a permanent injunction. The Davises appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sandefur, J.)

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