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Wright v. Liming

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

July 30, 2019

PAUL WRIGHT AND THERESA WRIGHT, Appellants
v.
BRANDON LIMING AND JENNA LIMING, Appellees

         On Appeal from the 334th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2018-19746

          Panel consists of Justices Lloyd, Landau, and Countiss.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Sarah Beth Landau Justice

         This is an interlocutory appeal of a temporary injunction that prohibits Paul and Theresa Wright from trespassing on property owned by their neighbors, Brandon and Jenna Liming.

          In two issues, the Wrights contend the trial court abused its discretion in entering the temporary injunction because the injunction did not meet the requirements of Civil Procedure Rule 683. Specifically, they contend the injunction did not adequately describe the acts the Wrights are prohibited from doing or explain why the Limings do not have an adequate remedy at law. The Wrights contend the temporary injunction is void due to its deficiencies.

         While they disagree with the Wrights' contention that the temporary injunction is deficient, the Limings have indicated their agreement to modify the temporary injunction to add specificity.

         Because we conclude any deficiencies in the temporary order can be resolved through reformation of the order and remand for that purpose would be a less efficient course, we reform the order and affirm it as reformed.

         Background

         Randy Darbonne owned several tracts of land in Kingwood, Texas. In 2003, he began renting a two-tract lot to the Wrights, who later bought the land. In 2017, he sold another two-tract lot to the Limings. When discussing the features of the Wrights' and Limings' properties and how various people used the properties before and after the 2017 sale transaction, we will refer to the property the Wrights bought from Darbonne as D1 and the property the Limings later bought from Darbonne as D2. See addendum.

          The D1 and D2 properties share a border. The Wrights' D1 property has two houses on it: a "main house" near the roadway and a "back house" deeper onto the property. The D1 property has two driveways: one driveway goes to the main house, and the other driveway extends the length of the property alongside both houses. There is an improved walkway connecting the main house and the back house. The Limings' D2 property has only one driveway, which is near the shared border. See addendum.

         Before the Limings moved to Kingwood, Darbonne used the D2 property to store his boat and various equipment and house a chicken coop. Darbonne did not live on the property. Darbonne allowed the Wrights to park several trucks and trailers on the D2 property. Often, the trucks and trailers would straddle the property line between the two properties. See addendum. Darbonne also allowed the Wrights, their family members, and their guests to use the D2 driveway to access the back house on the D1 property.

         When Darbonne sold the D2 property to the Limings, he told them the property came with full title and they could lock the gate and block all access to the D2 driveway. The Limings paid for a title search as part of their closing. The search did not reveal any competing ownership interests in the D2 property-the title was clear.

          The Limings planned to design and built a custom home on the D2 property. They met their neighbors, discussed their development plans, and began the permitting process for construction. During these initial, neighborly encounters, the Limings told the Wrights that the Wrights needed to remove their vehicles from the Limings' property, and the Wrights agreed they would. At times, the Wrights would remove their trailers and other stored items, but the Wrights never fully remained off the D2 property.

         When the Limings' fence contractor appeared one day to install a privacy fence along the property line between D1 and D2, Paul Wright called Brandon Liming and asked Liming to delay installation a couple days because Wright needed to move an underground pipe and the fence would be in his way. Liming agreed to a short delay. Never during this exchange did Wright assert any ownership or equitable right to the Limings' land or dispute Limings' ability to construct a privacy fence along their shared border. Instead, Wright simply asked that fence construction be delayed a couple days to allow Wright to move an underground pipe. After Wright finished moving the pipe, the Limings' fence contractor returned to build the fence.

         When the fence contractor returned, the Wrights' equipment was still on the property line, interfering with his ability to install the fence. The contractor approached the Wrights and asked them to move their vehicles off the property line. They asked him to "hold on" while someone got "out of the shower" or went to "get the keys." But they never moved their equipment. After a couple hours of waiting, the contractor called Liming. Liming arrived, and the Wrights moved their equipment slightly off the property line. The contractor told Liming the equipment was still too close to work around and he could not start the installation under those conditions. The fence would have to be installed later.

         Later that day, when one of the Limings' other contractors left the D2 property for the day, Liming had the contractor locked the gate. That was the first time the Limings locked their gate since buying the D2 property.

         That evening, Paul Wright called the Limings about the locked gate. Wright said the locked gate was preventing his guests from leaving the property, meaning the Wrights' guests were on the Limings' property and could not leave through the Limings' locked gate. Liming said he would drive over and unlock the gate for them to leave. Before he got there, the Wrights cut the Limings' lock, forced open the Limings' gate, and drove off the D2 property using the Limings' driveway.

         When he arrived, Brandon Liming questioned the Wrights and their guests about cutting his lock. According to Liming, one of the Wrights' guests showed Liming a Louisiana police badge and told Liming he could not lock the gate to the driveway because the Wrights have an easement. According to Liming, the Wrights had never claimed to have an easement or any ownership interest in his property before that night, which was some eight months after the Limings bought the D2 property and began telling the Wrights to remove their vehicles and equipment.

         The Limings called their title company about the claimed right to an easement. The title company looked over the title ...


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