Monday, January 6, 2014

Tioga Coal Co. v. Supermarkets General Corp. case brief

Tioga Coal Co. v. Supermarkets General Corp. case brief summary
546 A.2d 1 (1988)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant coal company sought review of the decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which affirmed a trial court holding that appellant's use or possession of a street was not hostile or adverse to the true owner of the land as required to perfect its claim of adverse possession against appellee supermarket.

CASE FACTS
Appellant coal company challenged the appellate court decision which affirmed the trial court's holding that appellant's use of a street was not hostile or adverse to the true owner, appellee supermarket, as required to perfect its claim of adverse possession.

DISCUSSION

  • The appellate court required proof of appellant's objective hostility toward the true owner of the street, which was lacking because appellant believed that the city owned the street. 
  • Appellant claimed that its taking and use of the street in excess of the statutory period was sufficiently hostile. 
  • The court agreed, finding that if the true owner did not eject an interloper from its property during the time allotted for an action in ejectment, and all other elements of adverse possession were met, then hostility would be implied, regardless of the trespasser's subjective state of mind. 
  • The court further held that the trial court's findings that the other requirements of adverse possession had been met would not be disturbed. 
  • The court reversed the appellate court's decision and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed an appellate court decision that held that appellant coal company's possession was not hostile as to the actual owner of the property, appellee supermarket, as required for a claim of adverse possession. The court applied an objective standard and held that because appellee failed to eject appellant during the statutory period for ejectment, hostility was implied.

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