Law School Case Brief
Manson Realty Co. v. Plaisance - 196 So. 2d 555 (La. Ct. App. 1967)
La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3444 provides: To retain the possession of a thing when a man once has it, it is not even necessary that he should have such positive intention; a negative intention suffices, that is, it suffices that the positive intention, which he had in acquiring the possession, shall not have been revoked by a contrary intention; for, so long as this revocation does not take place, the possessor is supposed always to retain his first intention, unless a third person has usurped or taken from him the possession, or he has failed to exercise an actual possession for ten years.
Plaintiff Manson Realty Company brought an action to enjoin defendant Abel Plaisance, which alleged that Plaisance was trespassing on land owned by Manson adjacent to the Plaisance's land. Defendant Plaisance answered that he had been in possession of the land for one year prior to the filing of the action. The trial court held that although Plaisance had constructed fences and occupied the property for at least five months, his possession prior to that time involved grazing cattle and cutting grass, which did not present an outward manifestation of the intent to possess the property. The trial court further held that Manson had not been in actual possession for more than a year prior to the filing of the action and was therefore barred from bringing the action. Manson, as record landowner, appealed.
Was plaintiff in actual possession of the property?
The court ruled that because the landowner was the record owner of the property, possession of part of the tract constituted possession of the whole. The record discloses Plaintiff performed the following acts with respect to the property: granted a pipeline servitude to United Gas Pipeline Company, which pipeline was actually laid in 1950, and has been in continuous operation since then, with the company clearing the right-of-way approximately two or three times a year; that Plaintiff has paid state and parish ad valorem taxes; has granted mineral leases, although no actual drilling operations have been conducted and that intermittently Plaintiff had conducted inspections of the property. The court held that the continuous operation of the pipeline was sufficient evidence of corporeal possession. The court reversed the decision of the trial court and ordered the issuance of a permanent injunction barring Plaisance from Manson's property and requiring him to remove all structures which he erected.
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