Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
JOHN B. GORDON AND RUTH A. GORDON, APPELLANTS
JASON DEMMON AND JUTTA DEMMON, APPELLEES
Appeal from the 169th District Court Bell County, Texas Trial
Court No. 249, 484-C, Honorable Gordon G. Adams, Presiding
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
T. Campbell Justice
John B. Gordon and wife Ruth A. Gordon sued appellees Jason
Demmon and wife Jutta Demmon to establish an easement
allowing access to their landlocked property. They pled
entitlement to an easement under various theories, including
necessity. Mona Marie Counts and Joy Dale Nugent intervened
in the suit seeking similar relief. After a bench trial, the
court declared two easements by necessity in favor of the
Gordons and an easement by necessity in favor of Counts and
Nugent. Dissatisfied with the extent of the relief granted,
the Gordons appeal. Counts and Nugent did not join the
appeal. The Demmons present a cross-point on appeal. We will
overrule the Gordons' issues and the Demmons'
cross-point and affirm the judgment of the trial court.
1969 the Gordons contracted with William L. Bremser and his
wife, Marleen L. Bremser, to buy an irregularly-shaped,
6.02-acre tract severed from the Bremser's larger tract.
The Gordons satisfied the contract terms and title was
conveyed to them by warranty deed in 1971. It is undisputed
that the land the Gordons purchased is surrounded by land
owned by others and does not abut a public road.
the time of their purchase, the Gordons used two routes to
access their property. On the south and west side of their
tract is a gravel road known as "South Road." Along
the north side of the property is a way known as
"Schrader Road." The center twenty-foot strip of
Schrader Road is paved with what was described at trial as
chip seal or old asphalt.
2003, the Demmons acquired the tracts that contain Schrader
Road and the South Road adjacent the Gordons' property.
According to the Gordons, thereafter the Demmons began
obstructing the Gordons' means of access from Schrader
Road and the South Road by locking a gate on Schrader Road.
In 2011, the Gordons filed suit to establish easements over
Schrader Road and the South Road.
trial the parties disputed the Gordons' request for two
access routes to their land. According to the Gordons'
testimony, the topography of the property is complicated by a
canyon or ravine running across its center, making Schrader
Road the only means of access to the northern part and the
South Road the only access on the south. Mr. Gordon testified
it would be "very difficult" to get to the south
side of the property without driving on the South Road, and
said a forty-foot-deep "culvert - - gulch" made it
"very impassible by vehicle" to go from the south
side of the property to the north side. Mr. Demmon disputed
the limited access the Gordons claimed, telling the court
that from a point inside a gate on Schrader Road the Gordons
could drive "anywhere on [their] property except for the
court's judgment granted the Gordons easements by
necessity along both roads. The judgment limited both
easements "to that portion of the described property
reasonably required to permit the holder to accomplish the
purpose of the easement, which is ingress and egress" to
the Gordons' property. The easements were "no wider
than reasonably necessary to afford" the Gordons
"ingress and egress to their" property. On the
Demmons' motion, the court granted a partial new trial
solely to determine the scope and location of the easements
partial new trial, Mr. Gordon testified at length of his
future plans to develop his tract into a subdivision with
private residences and recreational facilities such as tennis
and volleyball courts, a picnic pavilion, a zip-line, and
nature trails. Based on his claims that accessibility to
parts of the tract was limited, he reiterated the necessity
of a sixty- foot easement along Schrader Road and along South
Road. Otherwise, he maintained, portions of his property
would be inaccessible, costing him potential homesites.
Gordon and Mr. Demmon disagreed over the feasibility of the
Gordons' development plan. According to Mr. Demmon, the
"back half," or about two and one-half acres of the
Gordons' land, is a flood zone which is not
"buildable." The court also heard conflicting
evidence regarding the need for use of the Demmons'
property for ingress and egress by heavy equipment and truck
traffic during the Gordons' possible future construction.
judgment which followed granted the Gordons an easement by
necessity for the general purpose of ingress and egress
covering Schrader Road "plus an additional 30 foot wide
easement to access" the Gordons'
property. A second easement was granted along the
South Road. Findings of fact and conclusions of law,
following the new trial and final judgment, were neither
requested nor filed.
own motion, we notified the parties of our concern that the
Gordons' notice of appeal appeared untimely filed. We