Law School Case Brief
Norgard v. Busher - 220 Or. 297, 349 P.2d 490 (1960)
Possession under a mistaken belief of ownership satisfies the element of hostility or adverseness in the application of the doctrine of adverse possession.
Plaintiff Norgards and defendant Bushers were adjoining landowners. A fence, constructed before the parties purchased the land, incorrectly marked the boundary between the properties. The Norgrards built another fence along the same boundary lines as the first fence. The Norgards filed an action to quiet title to a strip land on their side of the fence. The trial court held that the Norgards had acquired title to the land by adverse possession. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's decree.
Did the claimants able to acquire ownership through adverse possession on the claimed land?
The Court held that the Norgards' possession based upon a mistaken belief of ownership satisfied the hostility and adverseness requirements of adverse possession, and the fact that the Norgards would not have claimed the land but for the mistake was immaterial. The court determined that the Norgards possessed the land continuously and openly for ten years as required by Or. Rev. Stat. § 12.050, and that the Norgards' cattle pasturing on the land constituted actual possession. The Court ruled that the disrepair of the fence and the occasional presence of the Bushers' cattle on the land did not destroy the Norgards' adverse and continuous possession of the land. The Court affirmed the trial court’s decree.
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