BEVERLY A. GRAVISON et al.
CALVERT M. FISHER et al
June 18, 2015.
Judgment vacated to the extent that it declares Bolan and
Lawrence the holders of deeded easements over the
Edwardses' intertidal area. Judgment clarified to reflect
that the neighbors' beach rights are limited to
recreational activities reasonably related to bathing and
boating. In all other respects, judgment affirmed.
briefs: David A. Soley, Esq., and Glenn Israel, Esq.,
Bernstein Shur, Portland, for appellants Beverly A. Gravison,
David B. Gravison, Darlene F. Edwards, and Lewis M. Edwards
W. Sparks, Esq., and Michael T. Devine, Esq., Drummond &
Drummond, LLP, Portland, for cross-appellant Ellwood Arthur
Titcomb Living Trust.
Driscoll, Esq., and David A. Goldman, Esq., Norman Hanson &
DeTroy, LLC, Portland, for cross-appellants Calvert M.
Fisher, Wendy B. Fisher, David A. Massimi, Theresa M.
Massimi, Kenneth C. Roy, Barbara J. Watrous, Douglas E.
Johnson, Leah Johnson, Nina Paul, Jean Perkins, Mary-Lou M.
Moulton, and Michele E. Lawrence.
A.S. Metcalf, Esq., and Ryan P. Dumais, Esq., Eaton Peabody,
Brunswick, for cross-appellant Nancy Ellen Wolff Bolan.
Long, appellee, Pro se.
argument: David A. Soley, Esq., for appellants Beverly A.
Gravison, David B. Gravison, Darlene F. Edwards, and Lewis M.
W. Sparks, Esq., for appellee Ellwood Arthur Titcomb Living
A. Goldman, Esq., for appellees Calvert M. Fisher, Wendy B.
Fisher, David A. Massimi, Theresa M. Massimi, Kenneth C. Roy,
Barbara J. Watrous, Douglas E. Johnson, Leah Johnson, Nina
Paul, Jean Perkins, Mary-Lou M. Moulton, and Michele E.
A.S. Metcalf, Esq., for appellee Nancy Ellen Wolff Bolan.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.
[¶1] This matter, like the matter of
Edwards v. Blackman, 2015 ME 165, __ A.3d __,
concerns property rights in certain oceanfront lots located
in the Coopers Beach neighborhood in Owls Head. In this
matter, Beverly and David Gravison appeal from a judgment
entered by the Superior Court (Knox County, Hjelm,
J. ) denying the Gravisons' complaint for deed
reformation. Joined by Darlene and Lewis Edwards, the
Gravisons also challenge the court's declaration that
certain neighboring property owners hold easements that
permit recreational use of the beach located in front of the
Edwardses' and the Gravisons' property. The Gravisons
and the Edwardses additionally appeal, and Sandra Titcomb,
Trustee of the Arthur Titcomb Living Trust (Titcomb)
cross-appeals, from the court's declaration that certain
neighboring property owners hold easements in a perimeter
path located on the properties owned by the Gravisons,
Titcomb, and the Edwardses. By cross-appeal, the neighboring
property owners challenge the court's ruling regarding
the beneficiaries and scope of the easements over the
[¶2] We affirm the denial of the
Gravisons' complaint for deed reformation, and affirm the
court's decision on all issues pertaining to the
perimeter path. As to the beach easements, we affirm in part
and vacate in part.
[¶3] Unless otherwise indicated, the
following facts are drawn from the trial court's judgment
and post-judgment order, and are supported by the record.
The Properties at Issue
[¶4] The Gravisons own an oceanfront lot
located in the Coopers Beach neighborhood in Owls Head. Their
lot is next to an oceanfront lot owned by Titcomb, which is
next to an oceanfront lot owned by the Edwardses. The beach
in front of the Gravisons' lot is the subject of the
reformation dispute. The dispute over the perimeter path
concerns a strip of land that is located near, but does not
touch, the high-water mark in front of the properties owned
by the Gravisons, Titcomb, and the Edwardses. The beach
easement dispute concerns the intertidal area in front of the
lots owned by the Gravisons, Titcomb, and the Edwardses.
[¶5] Mary-Lou Moulton owns an oceanfront lot
located near the Edwardses' property. Separated from the
shorefront by the oceanfront properties lie inland lots owned
by Calvert and Wendy Fisher, David and Theresa Massimi,
Kenneth Roy and Barbara Watrous, Nancy Ellen Wolff Bolan,
Douglas and Leah Johnson, Anne Long, Jean Perkins, Nina Paul,
and Michele Lawrence. These individuals and Moulton
(collectively, the neighboring property owners) assert the
easements at issue in this case.
[¶6] A map admitted as an exhibit at trial
labels and depicts the configuration of most of the
parties' properties. We include a copy of that map below.
The Blackinton Plan
[¶7] To address the easements in the
oceanfront lots, it is necessary to trace the chains of title
back to June of 1882, when A.D. Blackinton drew up a plan for
the subdivision of a tract of land located in the Coopers
Beach neighborhood (the Blackinton Plan). The tract depicted
on that plan (the Perry Parcel) was owned first by Eliza
Perry, and then by her daughter, Cora Perry. Eliza and Cora
are the common grantors, in whole or in part, of all of the
properties owned by the parties to this action.
[¶8] The Blackinton Plan was recorded on
November 5, 1924. The plan was altered in the period between
its creation in 1882 and recording in 1924, as demonstrated
by notations on the recorded plan of events that occurred
after 1882. The recorded plan shows several formal ways with
boundaries marked by straight, solid lines of uniform width.
It also shows a way (the perimeter path) that runs along the
shoreline perimeter of the land now owned by the Gravisons,
Titcomb, and the Edwardses. The recorded plan does not
indicate whether the perimeter path was a component of the
original plan. The recorded plan marks the boundaries of the
perimeter path by a set of curved, dashed lines of
non-uniform width, in a manner that is qualitatively
different from the plan's portrayal of other bounded
ways. As shown on the recorded plan the perimeter path does
not at any point touch the high-water mark.
[¶9] At some point, the Edwardses' house
was constructed, with a portion of the house encroaching on
the perimeter path. There is no evidence that anyone objected
to that construction based upon an asserted interest in the
perimeter path. Despite the placement of the Edwardses'
house on part of the perimeter path, individuals who do not
own the land covered by the perimeter path have made at least
occasional use of the land that lies in the approximate
location of the perimeter path as it is shown on the plan.
[¶10] A copy of the Blackinton Plan was
admitted as an exhibit at trial. We reproduce that copy here.
The Parties' Source Deeds
[¶11] Before the Blackinton Plan was
recorded in 1924, Eliza and Cora conveyed out of the Perry
Parcel the lots that now comprise the properties owned by the
Fishers, the Johnsons, and Moulton (collectively, the
pre-record owners). The properties now owned by the Massimis,
Roy and Watrous, Bolan, Long, Perkins, Paul, and Lawrence
(collectively, the post-record owners) were conveyed out of
the Perry Parcel, in whole or in part, after the plan's
[¶12] The following facts regarding the
language of the parties' source deeds are drawn from the
deeds summarized by Exhibit 211, which was entered in
evidence as a demonstrative aid and relied upon by the
parties and the court. All of the neighboring property owners
derive title through source deeds that refer to (1) the
" plan of Cooper's Beach as laid out in June
1882" ; (2) the " plan of said Coopers Beach as
laid out in June 1882" ; or (3) the " plan of
Coopers Beach made by A.D. Blackinton, Surveyor, dated
[¶13] Based on the contents of Exhibit 211
and the deeds to which that exhibit refers, the trial court
found that the pre-record source deeds convey the "
privilege" or " privileges of all streets laid out
on said Plan," while the post-record source deeds convey
" rights of way" shown on the plan.
[¶14] The trial court also found that a
majority of the neighboring property owners derive title
through source deeds that grant " use of the beach for
boating and bathing purposes." As demonstrated by the
deeds in the record, this finding holds true for all of the
neighboring property owners except Bolan and Lawrence.
Instead of " beach" rights, the source deeds for
the properties held by these individuals grant " all
riparian rights and shore privileges of every nature."
[¶15] Neither the plan nor the parties'
source deeds identify the location of the " beach"
or the area subject to " riparian rights and shore
privileges." When the Perrys first conveyed "
beach" rights, they owned the intertidal area in front
of the properties that are now owned by the Gravisons,
Titcomb, and the Edwardses.
Farber's Will and the ...