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Law School Case Brief

Spiller v. Mackereth - 334 So. 2d 859 (Ala. 1976)

Rule:

The essence of the finding of an ouster in adverse possession cases is a claim of absolute ownership and a denial of the co-tenancy relationship by the occupying co-tenant.

Facts:

A man purchased a half interest in a lot with co-tenants. At the time he bought the interest, the lot was being rented by a business. He then offered to purchase one of the co-tenant’s interest in the property but after the co-tenant refused, he sought a sale for division. The renter eventually vacated the building and the the man began to use the entire building as a warehouse. The co-tenant’s attorney sent a letter demanding that the man either vacate the building or pay half the rent. The co-tenant then brought a counter-claim to collect the rental she claimed complainant owed her. The trial judge held that the man had ousted the co-tenant and awarded attorneys fees and a rental award. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Issue:

Was the co-tenant ousted?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court reversed the determination that complainant ousted the co-tenant finding no evidence that he prevented the co-tenant from entering the building. The court, however, affirmed the award of attorney's fees. Case was remanded.

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