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Martin v. City of Seattle

Law Dictionary
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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.46 Wn. App. 1, 728 P.2d 1091 (Ct. App. 1986)

Brief Fact Summary. The C.B. Dodge Company, by quitclaim deed in 1908, conveyed to the City of Seattle a narrow strip of land which bordered Lake Washington, so that the city could construct what is now Lake Washington Boulevard. The deed was subject to a condition that the grantor retained, for its successors and assigns, the right to build and maintain a boathouse along the shore of Lake Washington, which the city was responsible for acquiring the land for the boathouse and allowing the building and use of the boathouse.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The City of Seattle took title to the property in fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, and the denial of the successor’s right to property upon which to build a boathouse constituted an unconstitutional taking without compensation by inverse condemnation.


Facts. The C.B. Dodge Company, by quitclaim deed in 1908, conveyed to the City of Seattle a narrow strip of land which bordered Lake Washington, so that the city could construct what is now Lake Washington Boulevard. The deed was subject to a condition that the grantor retained, for its successors and assigns, the right to build and maintain a boathouse along the shore of Lake Washington, which the city was responsible for acquiring the land for the boathouse and allowing the building and use of the boathouse. Between the years of 1908 and 1983 neither C.B. Dodge nor any successors had asked the city to allow them to construct a boathouse on city land. The Court found that the evidence supported a conclusion of fact that no such boathouse was ever constructed. In 1983 the Martins and two other successors made a demand of the city for the land upon which to construct a boathouse, which the city refused. Thereafter, the Plaintiffs brought suit to exercise their right to forfeit the cit
y’s interest in the land on which Lake Washington Boulevard is constructed, to obtain a declaratory judgment as to the validity of the deed and their election to forfeit or, in the alternative, for damages. The trial court found that the deed was valid, that the condition in the deed was breached, and that the Plaintiffs were entitled to $50,000 in damages. However, the trial court ruled that the Plaintiffs did not have a right to reenter the land or forfeit the city’s interest in the land, plus, the trial court denied the Plaintiff’s attorney fees. The city appealed on the grounds that the 1908 deed should not have continuing validity as to the condition subsequent. The Plaintiffs cross-appealed on the grounds that the damages were not adequate, that they could not reenter the land, and that their attorney fees were denied.

Issue. Are the provisions in the 1908 deed legally sufficient to vest in the successors of the grantor rights which may not be unilaterally denied by the grantee?
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