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Stiles v. Godsey

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 14, 2013

ROGER A. STILES and BETTY STILES, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
DAVID GODSEY, as Trustee of the Margaret H. Ponting Trust; JAMES A. STONER; DOUGLAS F. RICHARDSON; JOCELYN H. RICHARDSON; JOHN ALLEN DILLINGHAM; LINDEN DALE KINCAID; MARLE KINCAID; STEPHEN M. FOSTER; CHARLENE L. WALKER; CARL D. SAWYER; CAROL J. SAWYER; MARJORIE T. CONDRAY, as Trustee of the Marjorie T. Condray Living Trust; and LAVERNE METHVEN, as Trustee of the Laverne Methven Revocable Trust, Defendants-Respondents, And EMERY L. GAJDAN, et al., Defendants.

Argued and submitted on May 20, 2013.

Josephine County Circuit Court 02CV0357, Lindi L. Baker, Judge.

Natalie C. Scott argued the cause for appellants. With her on the briefs was The Scott Law Group.

Duane Wm. Schultz argued the cause for respondents James A. Stoner, John Allen Dillingham, Linden Dale Kincaid, Marle Kincaid, Stephen M. Foster, Charlene L. Walker, Carl D. Sawyer, Carol J. Sawyer, Marjorie T. Condray, and Laverne Methven. With him on the brief was Duane Wm. Schultz, P.C.

No appearance for respondent David Godsey. No appearance for respondents Douglas F. Richardson and Jocelyn H. Richardson.

Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Nakamoto, Judge, and Egan, Judge.

EGAN, J.

In Stiles v. Godsey, 233 Or.App. 119, 225 P.3d 81 (2009) (Stiles I), we concluded that plaintiffs had acquired title to a portion of their neighbor's property--over which an easement ran--through adverse possession. Following our remand to the trial court, a dispute arose between the parties regarding whether our opinion in Stiles I awarded plaintiffs the entire easement area or less than the entire easement area. The trial court concluded that our opinion in Stiles I intended to exclude two separate portions of the easement and, accordingly, entered an amended general judgment that quieted title to the majority of the easement in plaintiffs' favor, but excluded those two separate portions. Plaintiffs timely appeal from that amended judgment and contend that our opinion in Stiles I required the trial court to enter a judgment quieting title to the entire easement in their favor. They also argue that the trial court erred by including a provision in the amended judgment that "preserved" defendant Stoner's rights to reconstruct his carport. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand with respect to the southern portion of the deeded easement.

Plaintiffs' lot lies to the west of, and adjacent to, defendant Stoner's lot. Stoner's lot was created as part of a subdivision known as Mesman Manor. In Stiles I, plaintiffs brought an action for adverse possession over a portion of defendant Stoner's land. On de novo review, we first noted that "[t]he disputed area has three sections, each distinct in character and use." 233 Or.App. at 123. Two of those sections--referred to as the "accreted easement" and the "riverfront triangle"--are not at issue in the present appeal. The other section was referred to as the "deeded easement" and was originally created to allow the owners of the other Mesman Manor subdivision lots to access the Rogue River. In the factual background portion of Stiles I, we described the deeded easement section as follows:

"The first section of the area in question is the original Mesman Manor easement strip, which runs between the residences on the Stiles and Stoner lots, along the westerly border of the Stoner lot. The parties refer to this piece of property as the 'deeded easement' because it is referenced and described in the Mesman Manor deeds. The area is fenced by a stake fence that runs along its eastern side, within the Stoner lot, a wire fence placed by plaintiffs against the stake fence to contain their pets, and a board fence across the easement that joins with plaintiffs' driveway gate, effectively blocking the mouth of the easement from a southern entry. Those fences separate the first section of the disputed area from the rest of the Stoner lot and the other subdivision lots. Plaintiffs' patio and driveway encroach into this first section of the disputed area. Plaintiffs have made other improvements to that area."

223 Or.App. at 123.

After describing the other two sections of property at issue in Stiles I, we included a diagram in our opinion, reproduced below, which we prefaced by stating that "[t]he properties are configured as follows":

(IMAGE OMITTED)

Id. [1]

That diagram—which was created by this court—was based on a surveyor's map that was submitted by plaintiffs as an exhibit at the trial underlying Stiles I. The diagram in the opinion was a vastly simplified version of the surveyor's map, which was extensively referred to by the parties throughout the underlying proceedings and in the appeal in Stiles I.

After setting out both the description and the diagram, we proceeded to address plaintiffs' statutory adverse possession claim by first laying out the applicable legal standard under ORS 105.620: "[P]laintiffs must show by 'clear and convincing evidence' that they have 'maintained actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile and continuous possession' of the disputed area for a period of 10 years." Id. at 126. We also noted that ORS 105.620 requires that the would-be adverse possessors maintain an honest and reasonable belief that they were the owners of the property for the statutory period. Id. at 127-28. After an amplification of ...


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