A sworn statement could be a key document in a lawsuit between the developers of a high-rise hotel and office complex in Midtown Gainesville and Regions Financial Corp.
The statement supports the actions of Gainesville City Center LLC at the center of the lawsuit, but lawyers for the bank aren’t flinching.
Regions filed suit against Gainesville City Center last month after the developers erected a fence between their project and the Regions Operations Center. Regions’ lawsuit claims the fence violates a 25-year-old easement agreement that allows access to the bank from Bradford Street.
In 1984, Sam N. Hodges Jr. signed an easement allowing Regions to have access through the former Town View Plaza parking lot.
An affidavit Hodges signed last month states that he intended for all of the agreed upon easements to expire in 1994. Hodges’ affidavit also states that in the original survey plat, the paved parking areas were heavily shaded "so that there would be no question that all easements granted, including driveway easements, would terminate at the end of ten (10) years."
Hodges signed the affidavit Jan. 16, six days before Regions filed suit against the developers.
But Steve Gilliam, attorney for Regions, said he is not worried about the affidavit.
Hodges’ affidavit is only admissible in court if the deed and the survey plat are not clear. Both Gilliam and Julius Hulsey, attorney for Gainesville City Center, agree that the deed and the survey plat are clear. They just disagree on what is clear.
The two differ on the deed’s statement that "all easement granted or reserved in this Warranty Deed with respect to the paved parking areas shall expire ten (10) years from the date hereof."
Gilliam contends that the statement means that only easements over the paved parking areas expired in 1994, but says nothing about the expiration of driveway easements.
"Our position is there were two easements given: One for parking lots and one for driveways," Gilliam said.
Hulsey, on the other hand, argues that with the word "all" the deed calls for all easements to expire in 1994.
"It says all easements across the paved parking areas expire in 10 years; well what part of ‘all’ do you not understand?" Hulsey said.
Hulsey will file the developers’ answer to the complaint by Monday.