Friday, March 23, 2012

Brown v. Gobble case brief

Brown v. Gobble case brief summary
474 S.E.2d 489 (W. Va. 1996)

Plaintiff putative owners filed an action against defendant adverse possessors, seeking to prevent the possessors from interfering with the putative owners' use of the property. The adverse possessors appealed a judgment from the Circuit Court of Mercer County (West Virginia) which was entered in favor of the putative owners.


The adverse possessors were told that their property boundary extended to and included the fence enclosing their property. By a survey, the putative owners were on notice that a two feet tract of land within the possessors' fence was a part of the owners' property, but they did not nothing to exercise ownership or control of the land until five years later. The putative owners filed an action to prevent the adverse possessors from interfering with their plans to build a road. The adverse possessors claimed title by tacking. The trial court determined that the adverse possessors failed to prove their claim by clear and convincing evidence, which was held to be the applicable standard for establishing the claim. 


  • On appeal, the court held that while there appeared to be a significant amount of evidence supporting the adverse possessors' claim, the decision of the trial court in weighing the credibility of the evidence was not to be overturned absent clear error. 
  • The court further indicated that it appeared that the trial court either misunderstood or misapplied the theory of the adverse possessors, and further clarification of the trial court's rationale for its decision was required.
The trial court's judgment in favor of the putative owners was reversed and remanded for further proceedings to show clarification of the trial court's decision.

-P and D disputed ownership of a 2 ft. wide tract of property on the boundary of their properties. D presented evidence that both the Blevins and Fletchers who owned the D’s land from 1937-1985, believed they owned the boundary tract and treated the property as their own.
  1. Rule: The doctrine of tacking allows parties claiming adverse possession to use their predecessors’ conduct on the property to meet the time requirements of adverse possession. (so long as parties connected by privity of title or claim.)
  2. Adverse possession must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.

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