Law School Case Brief
Tieu v. Morgan - 246 Or. App. 364, 265 P.3d 98 (2011)
Or. Rev. Stat. § 105.620 codifies the common-law elements of adverse possession, requiring a claimant to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the claimant or the claimant's predecessors in interest maintained actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and continuous possession of the property for ten years. In addition to those common-law elements, the statute also requires the claimant to have had an honest belief of actual ownership when he or she entered into possession of the property.
The parties dispute ownership of a strip of land that runs parallel to the Morgans’ driveway. Henry Tieu, who owns residential property adjoining that strip of land, filed suit seeking (1) a declaration that he owns the disputed strip and (2) an injunction prohibiting the Morgans from trespassing on that property. The Morgans counterclaimed, asserting that they acquired the disputed strip through adverse possession, and subsequently moved for summary judgment on that counterclaim. The trial court granted the Morgans’ motion and entered a judgment declaring that the Morgans had acquired the strip through adverse possession. Tieu appealed.
Did the Morgans acquire the strip of property by adverse possession?
The court held that clear and convincing evidence established title by adverse possession because the Morgans and their predecessor had an honest belief under Or. Rev. Stat. § 105.620(1)(b) that the disputed strip was part of their lot and they continuously maintained actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile possession of the strip for well over 10 years. Although a fence did not completely separate the disputed strip from Tieu’s residential lot, it adequately defined the entire disputed strip, and the Morgans’ belief that they owned the disputed strip was reasonable.
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