Michigan Land Division Act 288. Michigan easement laws

ASHI Logo

Macomb County Home Inspectors

and Mold Inspection Services

NAHI Logo

Detroit home inspectors

313.510.0284 DetroitHomeInspector@Yahoo.com

Michigan easement caselaw

new baltimore michigan home inspector.JPG
Hello, I am Matt Fletcher. Everything on this web page is my opinion. This page was started on 4/24/16 and I am still working on it.

I graduated with an AA Degree. Then received a BA degree from The University of Detroit, and a Masters degree from Wayne State University. I was a certified high school construction teacher before I started a company called Belle Isle Engineering. We inspect buildings for buyers, bankers and other institutions.

This is my Michigan land easement lawsuit story concerning Land Division Act 288. People involved: Plaintiff Chuck Helms, Helms' lawyers was Port Huron Lawyer David Operator, Port Huron lawyer David Hay. Defendants' lawyer, St. Clair Shores Lawyer Bruce Crash, Presiding Judge Michelle Best of the St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Background



In the early 1980s the Fletcher family purchased 30 acres in 3 different 10 acre parcels in Kimball Township Michigan. The Fletcher family filed for and received a permit to install a culvert and gravel to access the property and used the easement for many years. Chuck Helms purchased the vacant lot that the Fletchers' easement ran trough and put a modular home on the nearly 3 acre lot.

Charles "Chuck" Helms sued the Fletcher family over a 50 foot wide easement. Chuck Helms' lawyer, David Operator filed the suit claiming a 50 foot wide easement was for "walking only". David Operator dropped out of the case claiming health reasons and David Hay took over the case. Judge Michelle Best of the St. Clair County Circuit Court was the presiding judge. The Fletchers filed a motion to dismiss the case after discovering that the case had no legal merit and not factual basis. However, Judge Michelle Best ruled that the case could move forward.

Michigan land easement laws, michigan easement lawsuits, caselaw michigan land easements

Persons Involved:

  • Judge..... Mr. Michelle Best, St. Clair County Circuit Court
  • Plaintiff..... Mr. Charles "chuck" Helms
  • Plaintiff Attorney..... Mr. David Operator
  • Plaintiff 2nd Attorney.....Mr. David Hay
  • Defendant's Attorney..... Mr. Bruce Crash
  • Defendants:..... Matt Fletcher (me), Wilma Fletcher, (my 80 year old mother), Linda Fletcher, sister, Sandra Fletcher, sister, Joe Bokano, nephew, Angela Bokano Grissom, niece.
  • Put links to all docs in one place























  • The complaint



    The trouble began when Chuck Helms and/or his renters began to block our tavel easement and I took these pictures of the small trailer, a camp fire pit, a swing set, lawn furniture and other debris blocking the easement. I personally asked the renters to move the items nicely several times and they did not. From talking to the people in the area around our 30 acres we were under the impression that local residents believed that we could never build a road on the 50 foot wide easement because the county has increased the minimum easement size from 50 to 66 feet. We knew the size of the easement was grandfathered in. We also believed that Mr. Helms was attempting to adversely possess our easement by using it for his campsite even though he had narly 3 acres of land and had plenty of other space for his campsite. We finally called the sheriff and moved the items blocking our easement ourselves.

    In November of 2011 Mr. Chuck Helms hired Port Huron Attorney David Operator to send us a letter claiming that our 50 foot wide easement was for "walking only" and we could not drive on the easement ever again. David Operator cited two previous easment lawsuits: Killips v Mannisto and Stolte v Krentel. On page 2 of the letter, paragraphs 2 and 3, Mr. Operator states that the easement does not allow vehicular traffic. If this were true, it would of course make our property pretty much worthless to anyone but Mr. Helms since he would have the only access. This was not Mr. Helms first court action in St. Clair County. It wasn't his second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, nineth or tenth. Not his eleventh, twelth, thriteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth or seventeenth, or eighteenth. It was his nineteenth. nineteenth. I pointed this out to the judge on many times but he didn't seem to care.

    In September of 2012, David Operator filed a lawsuit complaint against the FRONT 10 acre parcel claiming in item 13 of complaint that we had made deep ruts on our easement. Item 14 of complaint, we tried to prevent Mr. Helms from mowing the grass on the easement. Also, item 16 of complaint, no motorized vehicles can drive on the easement. The day of the trial, Mr. Chuck Helms would DENY he said or agreed with any of this. (PUT LINK TO TRANSCRIPT HERE WITH PAGE NUMBER)

    Our lawyer Bruce Crash was a great help...to the people suing us.



    Lawyer, David Operator did not realize that there were actually three parcels of 10 acres each which were dependent on the easement. My relatives hired lawyer Bruce Crash to defent the lawsuit for us and I gave one check of $200.00to my relatives to help pay the legal fees for Mr. Crash. I told my relatives THINK that Mr. Operator had made a mistake and he should have file a lawsuit against all three parcels of land since they all depend on that easement. My relatives mentioned that to Mr. Crash and our lawyer, Mr. Bruck Crash of St. Clair Shores Michigan called the lawyer suing us, David Operator, and told him about the other two parcels and so....David Operator apparently thought I was correct so he sued the rest of my family owning the other two lots. When Mr. Crash told me he had done that I pretty mad. I thought to myself..."this guy is a total idiot" he was just a huge help to the people suing us!!! Bruce Crash actually seemed pretty proud of himself...he didn't realized that I was one that figured out that all the parcels needed to be sued. Mr. Crash was pretty old and I often wondered if he rembered which side he was working for.

    Several months passed with not much happening. My sister called me and said our lawyer, Bruce Crash asked us to find some expert witnesses for the upcoming trial. Apparentley he didn't know of any and I doubt he had ever tried a case like this before. I was asked to find the expert winesses because I am in the construction business. I made an appointment to see a civil engineer and PE (Professional Engineer) I know by the name of Joe Vaglica. Joe Vaglica also teaches construction courses at Wayne State University and Macomb Community College.

    Land Division Act 288



    Joe Vaglica and I met for lunch and I showed him the complaint that lawyer David Operator had filed on behalf of his client, Chuck Helms. The first thing out of Joe's mouth was, "this is a frivolous lawsuit, all parcels of land must have vehicular access, it's state law. I forget what the law is, but there's a law." The next thing Joe Vaglica said was, "Don't you have title insurance?" I told Joe we did and showed him my copy. Joe said, "Why didn't you turn this into your title insurance?....I think they should cover this."

    I went back to my office and "googled" a few times but could not find the law Joe had mentioned about a parcel of land being REQUIRED to have vehicualr access under state law. I also went on a website called www.expertlaw.com to ask lawyers about this. WOW...I got nothing but bad information. Here is one reply I received from someone professing to 'know' about this:

    "It's perfectly legal to sell landlocked property. If you split a parcel such that the rear parcel is landlocked, but neglect to provide an easement, the law will normally infer that you intended to grant an easement. But if you knowingly buy a landlocked parcel to which no easement rights can be claimed (e.g., where the only route of access was lost due to eminent domain) you should expect to have to pay whatever your neighbor(s) charge to grant you an easement for access."

    I called my business lawyer who is a very experienced trial attorney and asked him if he could find this law and it took him about 15 minutes to find it. The law is called Land Division Act 288. And yes, it is illegal to "landlock" parcels of land in Michigan and land must have vehicular access.

    Land Division Act 288 states the following on page 2:

    "(g) "Parcel" means a continuous area or acreage of land which can be described as provided for in this act. (h) "Tract" means 2 or more parcels that share a common property line and are under the same ownership. (i) "Parent parcel" or "parent tract" means a parcel or tract, respectively, lawfully in existence on the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision. (j) "Accessible", in reference to a parcel, means that the parcel meets 1 or both of the following requirements: (i) Has an area where a driveway provides vehicular access to an existing road or street and meets all applicable location standards of the state transportation department or county road commission under 1969 PA 200, MCL 247.321 to 247.329, and of the city or village, or has an area where a driveway can provide vehicular access to an existing road or street and meet all such applicable location standards. (ii) Is served by an existing easement that provides vehicular access to an existing road or street and that meets all applicable location standards of the state transportation department or county road commission under 1969 PA 200, MCL 247.321 to 247.329, and of the city or village, or can be served by a proposed easement that will provide vehicular access to an existing road or street and that will meet all such applicable location standards."

    Title Insurance? What title insurance?



    I also sent a copy of the title insurnace title insurance to my attorney and asked him if he thought they should cover this lawsuit....he is very experienced in insurance, he read the title insurance and said yes, they should cover it. Our lawyer, Mr. Bruce Crash knew we had title insurance, we gave him a copy. I wondered why Mr. Bruce Crash would not tell us this...until I read the title insurance. It said, the title company had the right to pick the lawyer to defend the case. I believe Mr. Bruce Crash was afraid of losing the case to another attorney and was more interested in making money rather than doing what was best for us. I fired Mr. Bruce Crash as my attorney and never gave my relatives another dime to pay him. Mr. Crash had: Not told us that the title insurance should be covering the expenses of this case, strike ONE. Mr. Crash told the other side to sue the owners of the other two 10 acre parcels (me), strike TWO. And Bruce Crash was too dumb or lazy to look up the law or consult with another attorney and realize that Land Division Act 288 required that all parcels of land have vehicular access. My mom also fired Bruce Crash but the rest of my relatives were too dumb to do so. They later regreted it.

    My cousin Vinney



    I consulted with my attorney frequently but reprsented myself in court from here on out. Mr.David Operator had not actually filed suit on me or my parcel of land yet so I was not technically involved in the case. Dave Operator filed a motion to amend his complaint to sue the other two parcels of land. I showed up with my mom at the hearing...they weren't expecting us to be there.

    I had looked Attorney Dave Operator in the St. Clair County website and noticed that he had only been involved in 12 lawsuits. I thought perhaps he had just moved to Port Huron. But the day of his motion hearing, in a nearly empty courtroom, when Dave Operator began talking in front of the court, he began to stammer. He just couldn't get the words out. It was literally like that scene in the movie "My Cousin Vinney" and I am not exagerating. I later looked Dave Operator up on the Internet and read some of his customer reviews and they had said the same, he stammered in court. Now I knew why Dave Operator was involved in so few actual lawsuits where he had to get up and argue a case. I am not making fun of Dave Operator, this is important because it comes up as an issue later. We filed a jury demand and Judge Michelle Best of the St. Clair County Circuit Court DENIED us a jury trial. Several people I spoke to about this did not even know that was possibe. It is very unusual. My lawyer said this is the only case in 19 years of practice that he saw a judge deny someone a jury trial. I believe Judge Best denied us a jury trial and made it a bench trial because he knew Dave Operator, knew he stammered even in a nearly empty courtroom, knew there was no way he could argue a case in front of a full jury. And last but not least, Dave Operator had likely donated to Judge Best's election campaign.

    After the hearing, Dave Operator wanted to speak to us. He spoke almost normally when not in front of the court. And I told him that we had not caused the ruts on our easement (Mr. Helms land) the renter living there did it and we had a witness. I told Dave Operator that we had come up to file a motion to have his case dismissed based on Land Division Act 288...no such thing as a 50 foot wide walking easement to 30 acres of land. He looked at me dazed and confused and said, "sounds like a good law." We filed to have the case dismissed and in his response to the motion for dismissal, lawyer Dave Operator lied, began arguing the OPPOSITE OF WHAT WAS IN HIS ORIGINAL COMPLAINT, HE CHANGED HIS ARGUMENT THAT I WAS CORRECT, LAND DIVISION ACT 288 REQUIRED THAT WE BUILD A ROAD, WE HAD NOT AND THEREFORE COULD NOT USE THE EASEMENT. Dave Operator also wante me held in comtempt of court for practicing law without a license. LOL

    Mr. Helms' renters damaged the easement, not the Fletchers. So, I wonder why David Operator's complaint said the Fletchers had done it.




    To be continued...I am still working on this page. To cover: contempt of court, 6 weeks later, judges order, judge said, "they just drove around it, not blocked"
































































































    xxxxxxxxxx text here

    test

    Michigan radon testing

    detroit home inspector.JPG I have been a guest on ABC's "Detroit Radio 97.1 FM Talk" discussing the home and commercial building inspection process, construction and the real estate market in the Detroit area. Although we do environmental testing such as mold, radon and lead, we are not in the environmental clean-up business and do not try to scare customers into expensive clean-ups. All test results are presented with comparison data and EPA guidelines so you can make informed decisions.

    Roseville michigan home inspector

    I was also featured in Deals That Make Sense by Harvard MBA, John T. Reed (www.JohnTReed.com). There is a story about a rehab project I did on page 32 called "$80,000 Rehab Profit." I was also featured in John T. Reed's news letter, "Real Estate Investors Monthly" October 1999 issue.

    I have noticed that most people rehabbing homes underestimate the cost of repairs by HALF. In other words, if buyers think they can rehab a home for $20,000...it will probably cost more like $40,000. I use my renovation experience and software to give buyers rough estimates on "cost to cure" the properties they are considering.

    Saint Clair Shores Home inspectors, inspections

    detroit home inspections.JPG I am a certified Construction Trades teacher and volunteer my time to high school building trades programs. I was a judge at the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011 MITES competition.

    Please view the photos of homes I've personally restored in and around Detroit. When I am not inspecting or renovating I use my teaching degree to instruct building and construction courses.

    Detroit mold inspectors Michigan mold inspections

    Macomb county home inspectors inspections

    Detroit grosse pointe Macomb County Home Inspectors ASHI NAHI

    I accept Pay Pal

    Please visit the rest of our website:

    Detroit Mold Inspections
    Structural Issues With Michigan Homes
    Detroit Real Estate Investors
    Construction Science and Education
    Before & After Photos
    Michigan Home Inspection Links
    Fletcher Family Genealogy Tree

    Inspect roseville macomb twp detroit homes inspectors

    Please read my Inspection Agreement and see a Sample Inspection Report here.



    Click here to see the ASHI Virtual Home Inspection:

    ASHI Virtual Home Inspection

    Find more information about home inspections here:

    BBB LOGO

    American Society of Home Inspectors Link

    National Association of Home Inspectors Link

    REALS - A Comprehensive Real Estate Directory

    International Real Estate Digest


    Deck Framing Guide


    This website was last updated on April 14, 2013

    PRIVACY POLICY: This site will not release any personal information we obtain.
    This information is strictly used for purposes related to this business.

    Home Inspection Information | Detroit Real Estate Investors | Macomb County Home Inspectors | HUD Inspections | Condo Inspections | Structural Issues With Michigan Homes | Be