May 17, 2022
GrayRobinson’s Alec Russell successfully represented Turnstone Group, as Asset Manager for REO Funding Solutions III, LLC (REO) to obtain a jury verdict for REO that finally freed a development to proceed after being frozen for 10 years. In 2012, REO purchased a parcel of land in Brevard County, intending to complete a residential development that was begun by a prior developer (Roche). At the time of purchase, public records showed Roche had entered into Release of Easements agreements with two neighboring landowners for the purpose of relocating an access easement from the north side of the property to the south side in order to facilitate development of 21 residential lots. Roche was required to construct a new paved road to replace the old dirt road, and to satisfy other Release Conditions. Thus, Roche recorded affidavits in the public records attesting that the release conditions had been satisfied to make it appear the easement had been relocated so REO could proceed with seeking plat approval from the County, to then complete the development. However, after purchasing the property, REO learned that the neighbors disputed whether Roche had complied with all Release Conditions and they claimed their easement rights had not been relocated to the paved road. Russell argued that Roche at least substantially complied with the Release Conditions so the easement rights were relocated under the agreements, and that the neighboring owners had lost their rights in the old easement via the doctrine of abandonment and by adverse possession. The County advised REO that it would not approve a plat without a Court Order confirming that the neighbors’ easement rights were relocated to the new paved road. After a seven-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict for REO. REO also faced multiple counterclaims ranging from conspiracy and fraud, to trespass, to personal injuries, all of which they won as a result of Russell’s counsel.