Romero v. Garcia – 546 P.2d 66 (N.M. 1976)

Case Name: Romero v. Garcia
Plaintiff/Appellee: Ida Romero
Defendant/Appellant: Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Garcia (former father/mother-in-law of Romero)
Citation: 546 P.2d 66 (N.M. 1976)

Issue: Whether the plaintiff could claim the land under adverse possession when the deed failed to describe a specific piece of property.

Key Facts:
1947 – Plaintiff purchased the 13 acres in dispute from defendant father but defendant mother failed to join in the conveyance. (The 13 acres were part of the 165 acres that defendant father had purchased in 1923).
A home was built on the land and the deed was recorded in 1950. The plaintiff and deceased husband lived in the home until 1962, when he died, and the plaintiff moved out to Colorado and remarried.

The defendants argued that:
The void deed was inadequate for color of title. This is erroneous because a deed is sufficient for color of even though it is void because it lacks the signature of a community member.

The deed’s description was inadequate for adverse possession because it failed to describe a specific piece of property. A deed is not void for want of proper description if, with the deed and with extrinsic evidence on the ground, a surveyor can ascertain the boundaries. An indefinite and uncertain description may be clarified by subsequent acts of the parties

Procedural History: The court found for the plaintiff.

Holding: The subsequent acts of the parties in erecting a house and pointing to the land were sufficient to ascertain the boundaries.

Judgment: Affirmed.

Nome 2000 v. Fagerstrom – 799 P.2d 304 (Alaska 1990)

Case Name: Nome 2000 v. Fagerstrom
Plaintiff: Nome 2000
Defendant: Charles and Peggy Fagerstrom
Citation: 799 P.2d 304 (Alaska 1990)

Issue: Whether the defendants acquired the southern portion of the land in dispute when their only activities included the use of the pre-existing trails and picking up litter.

Key Facts: 7 ½ acres in dispute. Record title which includes the disputed parcel is held by Nome 2000. In 1978 the defendants built a cabin on the north end of the disputed parcel. The plaintiff admits that from the time the cabin was place until it filed this suit (1987), the defendants adversely possessed the north end of the disputed parcel.

Procedural History: Nome 2000 filed suit to eject defendants. The defendant’s counterclaimed that through their use of the parcel they had acquired title by adverse possession.

Holding: The defendant did not acquire the property through adverse possession on the southern portion of the land because absent color of title, only property actually possessed may be acquired by adverse possession.

Judgment: The plaintiffs did not adversely possess the southern portion of the land in dispute. The case was remanded to the trial court in order to determine the extent of the defendant’s acquisition (northern portion).

Alaska adverse possession:
1. Ten year period
2.  Continuous
3. Open and notorious
4. Exclusive and hostile to the true owner

Willcox v. Stroup – 467 F.3d 409 (4th Cir. 2006)

Case Name: Willcox v. Stroup
Plaintiff: Thomas Law Willcox
Defendant: Stroup (Director of the SC Department of Archives/History and the State of South Carolina
Citation: 467 F.3d 409 (4th Cir. 2006)

Issue: Whether the plaintiff had good title of the Civil War documents when they had been in his family’s possession for over one hundred and forty years and there was no evidence that showed any other had title to the property.

Key Facts: The plaintiff found 444 documents from the administrations of two governors of South Carolina during the Civil War in a shopping bag in his late stepmother’s home. The documents have an appraised value of $2.4 million. The plaintiff allowed the documents to be microfilmed for the state archives. When the plaintiff attempted to sell the papers, the defendant obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the sale. The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that he owned the papers.

Reasoning: If there is no evidence to the contrary, proof of possession, is sufficient proof of title.

Rule of Law: Proof of possession is sufficient proof of title if there is no evidence to the contrary.