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Tumacacori Mission Land Development, LTD v. Union Pacific Railroad Company - 1/29/2013

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Holds Claim Preclusion Bars Assertion of Easement Claims That Rely on Same Facts as Original Action.

Tumacacori Mission Land Development brought an action seeking to quiet title to its right to use a roadway that crosses over land owned by Union Pacific.  Tumacacori alleged a prescriptive easement theory, as well as a common law necessity theory.  The trial court granted the Union Pacific’s motion for summary judgment against all of Tumacacori’s claims.  After the trial court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Union Pacific, Tumacacori filed a motion to amend its complaint to add additional theories of easement.  The trial court denied the motion to amend, and Tumacacori appealed that ruling.

The appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision to deny the motion to amend.  It held that claim preclusion barred the assertion of additional theories in an amended complaint, because they could have been asserted in the lawsuit before summary judgment.  Claim preclusion prevents the assertion of claims that were, or could have been, asserted in a prior action between the same parties.  A single claim, such as Tumacacori’s claim to an easement, cannot be split, and includes all rights with respect to a single transaction.  Tumacacori’s additional theories relied on the same facts as the original theories, and supported the same relief of an easement as the original theories.  Due to claim preclusion, it would have been futile to permit Tumacacori’s quiet title claim, and accordingly, the trial court appropriately denied the motion to amend.

Virginia Kelly authored the opinion, Presiding Judge Vasquez and Judge Espinosa concurred.

Posted by: Chelsea Durkin

Posted On: 2/26/2013