ROGER L. HOLT
JIMMY CANTRELL, ET AL.
Session March 24, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Bradley County No. 2014-CV-105
Jerri S. Bryant, Chancellor
appeal concerns access to real property ("the lake
property") owned by Roger L. Holt ("Holt").
Holt sued Jimmy Cantrell,  Shirley Carroll and Tommy Cantrell
("Defendants") in the Chancery Court for Bradley
County ("the Trial Court") alleging that he was
entitled to access his property by means of a road bed
("the Disputed Road Bed") on Defendants'
property ("the Cantrell property"). Holt advanced
three alternative theories: that he was entitled to a
prescriptive easement; that he was entitled to an easement by
necessity; and that the Disputed Road Bed is a public road by
implication. After a hearing, the Trial Court rejected all
three of Holt's theories and dismissed his complaint.
Holt appealed to this Court. We affirm the judgment of the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Franklin Chancey, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant,
D. Henry, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shirley
Carroll and Tommy Cantrell.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Andy D. Bennett and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ.,
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
Disputed Road Bed is on a strip of land around 10 feet wide
and 100 feet long running across the southern part of the
Cantrell property in Bradley County. The Disputed Road Bed
has been used previously for access to a rental home and to
property known as the Johnson family property, which was
landlocked. Holt owns 6.2 acres of property adjoining the
Cantrell's property to the north with both situated along
Patterson Road (formerly Lane). Holt's grandfather Marvin
McClure purchased the property in 1964, and it has since
passed down to Holt. The 6.2 acre property originally was
part of a much larger tract of land owned by Holt's
grandparents. Marvin McClure dug a lake and constructed an 80
square foot cabin on the property. The lake was stocked with
fish. There also is a crude dam on the property. Holt, his
family and friends frequented the lake property a number of
times from the 1960s onwards. In the 2000s, family illnesses
prevented the Holts from hosting recreational events on the
lake property. Holt and other guests used the lake property
for, among other things, fishing, camping, and church
Disputed Road Bed is one means of entering Holt's
property. Another entrance is directly off the public road at
an upper gate. In 1999, defendant Shirley Carroll placed a
telephone pole across the Disputed Road Bed to keep out
trespassers. In 2012, a gate was installed. Holt asserts that
entry via the upper gate is insufficient because of the
location of the lake and the harshness of the terrain on that
side of the lake, hence this lawsuit seeking access through
the Disputed Road Bed on the Cantrell's property.
2014, Holt filed his complaint in the Trial Court. Holt, in
successive amended complaints, advanced three theories: (1)
that he is entitled to a prescriptive easement; (2) he
acquired an easement by necessity; and, (3) the Disputed Road
Bed is a public road by implication. This case was tried over
the course of two days in August 2016, with a heavy emphasis
at trial over how often the Holts and their guests made use
of the Disputed Road Bed.
trial, Holt produced photographs of Holt guests attending
recreational events by the lake in different time periods.
James Hamilton, a cousin of Holt, testified that in the
'80s and '90s, he and others "pretty much
lived" on the lake, and would stay "all
summer." Don Sizemore, a Holt family friend who visited
the lake, testified that in the '70s and '80s there
was "cooking and stuff like that or gospel singing
sometimes." Richard Elliston, another Holt family
friend, testified: "During the summers of - I'm sure
during the summer of 1979 and also maybe a time or two during
the summer of 1980 we would camp on that property."
Holt's mother and sister testified to use of the Disputed
himself testified to the background of the lake property and
Disputed Road Bed as follows:
Q. Mr. Holt, you currently [are] the owner of the property
that's at issue in this case?
Q. Who was Marvin McClure?
A. My grandfather.
Q. Now, the deed reference that I saw indicates that he
purchased this property in 1964. How old are you? When were
Q. As a youngster, did you have occasions to be on this
Q. Tell us about your earliest memories of that.
A. I can kind of remember when they dug the house. I always
went fishing there, camped out, parties.
Q. Okay. Now, all through the 1960s, you'd have been six,
seven, eight years old.
Q. Were you out there in that period of time?
Q. How frequently would your family be out there?
A. Every week.
Q. Now, do you live far away from this property?
Q. As the crow flies, can you give an estimate to how far
away it would be?
A. Less than a mile.
Q. Okay. What about through the 1970s, how often were you out
A. Every week.
Q. Now, on this property - what's on it, first of all?
A. A lake and a cabin.
Q. Do you know when the cabin was constructed?
A. I would guess in the later '60s.
Q. Now, what was this cabin utilized for?
A. Had a family live in it for a couple of years, and
we've used it for overnight camp-outs and parties. Had a
stove and --
Q. Is there utilities to it?
Q. Public utilities?
A. Not in the cabin, but there is a septic tank on the
Q. You said camping, how would you camp out there?
A. Campers, tents.
Q. So, both kinds?
Q. Now, were you out there during the '80s?
Q. Was there any change in the frequency with which you'd
be out there?
Q. Now, was it just utilized by family members?
Q. Who else would go out ...