In published opinion, Ninth Circuit revives building owners’ easement complaint previously dismissed on summary judgment

GMSR’s clients, who own a building in the Manhattan Village shopping center, agreed with defendant owner of the remainder of the center to a revitalization construction project that would increase the amount of parking near the clients’ building. Soon, the defendant began making significant changes to the site plan, including reducing the number of parking spaces called for in a new parking structure and eliminating nearby parking during construction. GMSR’s clients sued on several theories, including breach of contract, interference with easement, and interference with contractual relations. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant, ruling that GMSR’s clients could not complain about the project changes because they had signed a settlement agreement that gave the defendant discretion to amend the site plan. GMSR convinced the Ninth Circuit that the district court ignored a key provision in the agreement that preserves the clients’ easement rights. The court agreed that the settlement agreement’s seemingly contradictory provisions could be read harmoniously to give the defendant discretion to amend the site plan but not so much discretion as to trample GMSR’s clients’ rights.

Court of Appeals Opinion – View Document