Supreme Court of Texas Blog: Legal Issues Before the Texas Supreme Court

No. 14-0591
TAMES

THE STALEY FAMILY PARTNERSHIP, LTD. v. DAVID LEE STILES, DELZIE STILES, GINGER WESTBROOK, ROBERT STILES, AND DAVID STILES

Oral argument was held on October 14, 2015. The Court issued an opinion resolving the case on January 29, 2016. File Closed

In the news...

Tracking 1 article about this case.

January 29, 2016

Challenge to school religious policy not moot; two oil and gas cases; timing is crucial in arguing for an easement to a roadway [Jan. 29, 2016]

from SCOTXblog

This article also mentions 5 other cases.

The Court has issued opinions:

Opinion

January 29, 2016

Johnson
Hecht
Green
Willett
Guzman
Lehrmann
Boyd
Devine
Brown

Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the Court. PDF

 

Court of Appeals

Appellate District:5th Court of Appeals
Outcome Below:Affirmed
COA Docket No.:05-13-00735-CV
Opinion Author:Honorable Robert M. Fillmore

Trial Court

Trial Court:429th District Court
County:Collin
Trial Judge:Honorable Jill Renfro Willis
Trial Docket:429-03484-2010

Entries on SCOTX Orders Lists

Docket Entries

Date Event Outcome  
2016-03-11 Mandate issued  
2016-01-29 Opinion issued   Court of appeals' judgment affirmed
2016-01-29 Court approved judgment sent to attorneys of record Issued
  This case was awaiting the Court's decision after oral argument between October 14, 2015 and January 29, 2016.  
2015-10-14 Oral argument  
2015-10-12 Letter Filed  
2015-10-07 Exhibits in case/cause filed (Petitioner)  
2015-10-01 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received  
2015-09-17 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received  
2015-09-04 Case set for oral argument   Case set for oral argument
2015-09-04 Petition for Review granted
2015-09-04 Petition for Review disposed Filing granted
  This case was pending on merits briefs between April 28, 2015 and September 4, 2015.  
2015-04-28 Reply Brief (Petitioner)  
2015-04-13 Brief on the Merits (Respondent)  
2015-03-30 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed  
2015-03-30 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2015-03-16 Brief on the Merits (Petitioner)  
2015-02-26 Case Record Filed  
2015-02-24 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2015-02-24 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed  
2015-02-02 Record Requested in Petition for Review  
2015-01-30 Brief on the Merits Requested  
2015-01-14 Reply to Response (Petitioner)  
2014-12-30 Motion to Extend Time to File Reply filed  
2014-12-30 MET to file reply disposed of   Filing granted
2014-12-09 Response to Petition (Respondent)  
2014-11-14 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2014-11-10 Notice of Appearance  
2014-11-10 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response  
2014-10-24 Supreme Court of Texas Requested Response  
2014-09-23 Case forwarded to Court
2014-09-15 Response Waiver filed  
2014-08-18 Petition for Review (Petitioner)  
2014-08-01 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review disposed   Filing granted
2014-08-01 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review filed  
2014-08-01 Designation of Lead Counsel  

Parties

Party Counsel Role
The Staley Family Partnership, Ltd.
Mr. Darrell W. Smith
Mr. Robert Allen Miller
Mr. Chad M. Ruback
Petitioner
Stiles, David Lee
Mr. Grady R. Thompson
Mr. Charles (Chad) E. Baruch
Respondent
 
 

The "necessity" in an easement by necessity is evaluated at time the two properties were severed

easements property

The land originally conveyed in a state land grant was eventually severed into two parcels in 1866. Today, one of those parcels (the Staley tract) is landlocked in the sense that it has no connections to nearby roads and so cannot be accessed without the permission of other neighboring owners. The current owners sued, arguing that the doctrine of easement by necessity should compel finding an easement across the other half of the original land grant (the Stiles tract) to connect to a state road running through the area. The trial court ruled against them.

The court of appeals affirmed, holding that this record did not support an easement by necessity. The Texas Supreme Court agreed, affirming the judgment below.

The key to the Court's decision is timing. As the Court explained:

Maps introduced into evidence showed roads in the vicinity of CR 134 may have existed as early as the 1930s, but there was no evidence of a public roadway through the Stiles Tract or along its northern boundary before that time.

The Court explained that a landowner claiming an easement by necessity must show the presence of a public roadway at the time of the original severance of the two parcels. Here, that severance was in 1866. And there was no evidence that—in 1866—any easement could have been drawn to connect to a public road.

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