Ruling stands for park district as court closes Rosser case

The state Court of Appeals has declined to reconsider a case between the Vashon Park District and islander Gay Rosser, potentially bringing their long-running property dispute to a close.

The appeals court first issued a ruling on the case in September, upholding a 2012 decision by King County Superior Court Judge Laura Gene Middaugh, who ruled that the Rosser family does not have evidence to support its claims of ownership regarding two contested pieces of property near the new VES Fields.

Rosser appealed that decision, and on Nov. 1, the appeals court declined to reconsider the case. Both parties were notified of the decision at that time, according to Helen Kistler, a case manager at the Court of Appeals, who said a letter was mailed to Rosser that day.

On Dec. 20, after waiting the required 30 days in which Rosser might have filed for further legal review, the appeals court closed the case, and both parties were again notified, Kistler said.

Typically such action would mean the end of the legal process, but reached for comment last week, Rosser said she had not received notification of the court’s decision in a timely way. In fact, she said, she had not received the Nov. 1 notice until Dec. 27.

She also said she only learned of the court’s December decision to close the case through The Beachcomber, though Kistler said the second notice had been mailed out the previous week.

Later, Rosser issued a statement to The Beachcomber.

“I am unable to comment on the matter until the question of why the service of legal documents according to law and regulation has not been accomplished and is investigated,” she said in part. “Once this has been investigated and legal rights of parties involved are met we will be happy to review the matter with The Beachcomber for publication.”

Notified of Rosser’s response, Kistler said mail is sent out the same day it is dated, and if Rosser wants to pursue further legal pathways, she must file a motion to recall the court’s mandate.

Previously, Rosser, who has acted as her own attorney, said she would take the matter to the state Supreme Court if her attempts at the appeals court level failed.

David Hackett, an attorney who recently completed a term as a park district commissioner and closely followed the case, said he had expected that the Court of Appeals would refuse to reconsider the case.

“A (court) commissioner, a supreme court judge and three appeals court judges have all ruled in our favor,” he said.

Gay Rosser and her mother Margaret Rosser have been in conflict with the Vashon Park District, which leases 30 acres of land at the VES Fields from the Vashon Island School District, since 2007. The Rosser family owns a home next to the fields, and Gay Rosser has maintained that they own the stretch of road on the south side of the fields and that the school district owns only an easement on it. She has also maintained that the Rossers own an easement on a small swath of property on the eastern edge of the fields, which abuts the western edge of their land.

After a lengthy legal battle, two courts have ruled the school district owns the road in question and the Rossers have an easement on it. Both courts also  found that the Rossers do not have an easement on the eastern portion of the fields.

Rosser, however, indicated she hopes to continue the legal fight.

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