Trial Victory for Equestrian Facility and Owner in Oregon

February 1, 2023 – Press Release

February 1, 2023 (Bend, OR) – Hawkins Parnell & Young partner Eileen McKillop of Seattle obtained a bench trial victory in the Circuit Court of Deschutes County, Oregon, on behalf of an owner and her equestrian facility. The case arose from nearby landowners trying to halt the operations of the equestrian facility on the client's property zoned for Exclusive Farm Use.

After more than 15 failed code enforcement complaints to the county, 14 neighbors filed a lawsuit against the owner and facility, alleging the same code violations and challenging the right to access the road running through several of their properties for commercial purposes. McKillop filed a motion to dismiss the allegations of code violations, which the court granted due to a lack of standing.

A bench trial was held on the plaintiffs' remaining claims for declaratory and injunctive relief, asserting that the equestrian facility had no right to use the access road and alleging easement abuse. The trial judge granted McKillop's motion to dismiss seven plaintiffs and four defendants on the first day of the trial. The judge rejected the plaintiffs' abuse of easement claim due to lack of damages and granted the property owner and equestrian facility an implied nonrestricted access easement over the access road. The court also granted the client an award of attorney's fees and costs.