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Law School Case Brief

Mannillo v. Gorski - 100 N.J. Super. 140, 241 A.2d 276 (Super. Ct. 1968)

Rule:

An adjacent landowner's claim to a strip of land by adverse possession could not be sustained because his possession had been under a mistake and not with intent to claim beyond his own boundary.

Facts:

Plaintiff landowners and defendant, a neighbor who owned property adjacent to plaintiffs', disputed ownership of a 15-inch wide strip of land previously owned by plaintiffs, but which defendant had maintained for over 20 years by building stairs that covered that strip of land. The facts showed that defendant's possession of the this strip of land was exclusive, continuous, uninterrupted, visible, notorious, and against the right and interests of plaintiffs. Plaintiff husband knew even 20 years ago that the strip of land was being used by defendant, but defendant indicated that he never intended to use plaintiffs' land but, rather, did so the entire time by mistake. A complaint was filed, and at the conclusion of the trial, it was held that defendant had acquired ownership over the strip by adverse possession. Plaintiffs appealed.

Issue:

Did the adjacent landowner acquire the strip of property through adverse possession?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The superior court held that the defendant did not acquire title over the subject property by adverse possession because possession was a result of mistake rather than an intentional taking. The Court noted that the basis of adverse possession was a limitation on the time of entry of the true owner.

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