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Campbell v. Hipawai Corp. - 3 Haw. App. 11, 639 P.2d 1119 (1982)

Rule:

The function served by jury instructions is to inform the jury of the law applicable to the current case.  It is reversible error for the trial judge to fail to instruct the jury on the proper rule of law to be applied in a particular case.

Facts:

Two landowners were in a dispute over the location of the common boundary between their properties. The property was located in Manoa Valley, Oah'u, and was designated by the exhibits in evidence as parcel 15, TMK 2-29-23-15. It consisted of 2,016 square feet and is bordered on the west by parcel 14, owned by defendant Hipawai Corporation, and on the east by parcel 4, owned by Cozy P. Campbell. Campbell claimed paper title to the property by virtue of Royal Patent No. 1273, issued in 1853 to Kaaukai by King Kamehameha III. Defendant Hipawai claimed title to the same parcel by mesne conveyances and by adverse possession, established by its predecessors in interest, defendant grantor Leon L.M. Chun. After a trial by jury, the court below entered a judgment quieting title in Campbell. Hipawai appealed contending that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the applicable period of limitations governing its claim of adverse possession was 20 years.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in instructing the jury that the applicable period of limitations governing its claim of adverse possession was 20 years?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The appellate court held that the 20-year adverse possession instruction, as provided under the amendment in the Statutory Elements of Hawaii’s Adverse Possession Law, violated ’s matureHipawai's rights over the property in question. According to the court, an instruction based on the 10-year period of limitations should have been given. It should have included appropriate language to the effect that once title by adverse possession had vested, continued possession was not required. Had the jury been properly instructed, they may have found that Hipawai had established title by adverse possession.

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