Martha S. Satterwhite, Larry G. Satterwhite, and Sara J. Satterwhite
Rodney Byrd Millennium Properties, Inc. Martha S. Satterwhite, Larry G. Satterwhite, and Sara J. Satterwhite
Saddle Lake Farms Association, Inc., and Mutual Savings Credit Union
Appeals from Shelby Circuit Court. (CV-06-900038 and
Appellants: Donald H. Brockway, Jr., Birmingham.
Saddle Lake Farms Association, Inc. Appellee: J. Frank Head
of Ellis, Head, Owens & Justice, Columbiana.
Mutual Savings Credit Union, Appellee: Foster D. Key of Key
Greer Harrison & Casey, Birmingham.
Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Moore, and Donaldson,
appeals, which were consolidated by this court ex mero motu,
arise out of a property dispute regarding the propriety of
certain easements. The basic facts are undisputed. In 1982
Ruby P. Levy and Harry Scheinert conveyed a 60-foot-wide
easement to Wayne R. Satterwhite. In 1984 H.E. Wills and
Maria Wills conveyed
a separate 60-foot-wide easement to Wayne, Martha S.
Satterwhite, Larry G. Satterwhite, and Sara J. Satterwhite
(Martha, Larry, and Sara are hereinafter referred to
collectively as " the Satterwhites" ). The two
easements (" the historical easements" ) were
within property that would eventually be developed into
Saddle Lake Farms -- " a land condominium with
units/lots containing houses for sale, with platted streets
and roadways." The property upon which Saddle Lake Farms
was developed is contiguous to a 60-acre parcel that was
owned by Wayne and the Satterwhites, and the historical
easements were intended to be access easements to the 60-acre
5, 1995, Saddle Lake Farms Association, Inc. (" the
HOA" ), recorded its articles of incorporation, a survey
of Saddle Lake Farms, a property description of Saddle Lake
Farms, and a declaration establishing the neighborhood
covenants for Saddle Lake Farms (" the incorporation
documents" ), and the HOA received a certificate of
incorporation. Gerd Anderson was the president of the HOA.
Per the incorporation documents, EnviroBuild, Inc., a
property-development company, held the management rights of
the HOA until private owners owned 75% of the units that
composed Saddle Lake Farms. Anderson was also the president
Satterwhite Enterprises, LLC (owned by Wayne and the
Satterwhites), and EnviroBuild entered into a
jointventure agreement to equally divide the profits and
losses of developing Saddle Lake Farms. In 2001 Satterwhite
Enterprises conveyed a 77.89-acre parcel to EnviroBuild. The
deed, which appears in the record, conveyed a parcel within
the area to become Saddle Lake Farms, subject to "
easements of record," and included an express
condition that an access-and-utilities easement would be
created in the future for access to Satterwhite
Enterprises' contiguous 60-acre parcel.
26, 2004, Anderson, on behalf of both EnviroBuild and the
HOA, executed an easement document (" the easement
document" ), which purported to convey to Wayne and the
Satterwhites a specifically identified 60-foot-wide "
permanent ingress/egress and utilities easement over, across,
and under the property formerly granted to EnviroBuild by
Satterwhite Enterprises." The easement document
described an easement running across, among others, a lot
identified in the record as Lot 208; the easement document
was recorded. On July 26, 2004, Anderson, on behalf of the
HOA, executed an " agreement for ingress egress
easement" in which the HOA conveyed to Envirobuild
" perpetual use" of
" a permanent ingress-egress easement within the streets
and roadways located in Saddle Lakes Farms Condominium which
are more readily depicted and described as a common element
in the condominium's recorded plans. This easement is
granted for the purpose of providing permanent access to and
from all the real properties [(sic)] owned by
[EnviroBuild], which adjoins and is contiguous to Saddle Lake
to business letters contained in the record, 75% of the units
of Saddle Lake Farms were owned by private owners by November
16, 2004; thus, on January 5, 2005, the management rights of
the HOA transferred from EnviroBuild to the newly elected
board of the HOA.
EnviroBuild sold, among other lots, Lot 208, subject to any
existing easement, to Rodney Byrd Millennium Properties, Inc.
(" Millennium" ). The lot was surveyed, but the
surveyor failed to discover the easement document, and
Anderson, on behalf of EnviroBuild, executed a sworn
statement indicating that no easements existed on the lot.
Millennium contracted to build a house on Lot 208 for
prospective buyers, Shane Sumrall and his wife, Kristina
Sumrall. Due to their eventual discovery of the easement
document, the Sumralls never purchased the house, and
Millennium was thereafter unable to sell the house. Mutual
Savings Credit Union (" MSCU" ) eventually
foreclosed upon the house and Lot 208.
September 11, 2006, Millennium and the Sumralls filed in the
Shelby Circuit Court a complaint against EnviroBuild, Wayne,
Anderson, Stewart Title Guaranty Co., and Satterwhite
Enterprises, which was assigned case no. CV-06-900038 ("
the 06 action" ). On May 15, 2007, the Satterwhites
filed a complaint against Millennium, Rodney Byrd (the
president of Millennium), the Sumralls, the surveyor of Lot
208, and the surveyor's employer, which was assigned case
no. CV-07-900173 (" the 07 action" ). The circuit
court granted MSCU's motion to intervene in the 07 action
on February 4, 2009; MSCU aligned itself with the
Satterwhites. The HOA was added as a defendant in
the 07 action on October 10, 2010.
December 20, 2007, the circuit court entered an order
consolidating the 06 action and the 07 action " for
purposes of discovery and trial." We discuss each action
06 Action -- ...