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Harvey v. Furrow

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

December 23, 2014

SUSAN C. HARVEY et al.
v.
ADDISON H. FURROW JR. et al

Argued June 11, 2014.

Page 605

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 606

On the briefs:

Richard Johnson Jr., Esq., Edwards & Johnson, Lincoln, and Michael J. O'Toole, Esq., Woodman Edmands Danylik Austin Smith & Jacques, P.A., Biddeford, for appellants Addison H. Furrow Jr. and Karen R. Lane.

Paul W. Chaiken, Esq., and Robert W. Laffin, Jr., Rudman Winchell, Bangor, for appellees George Blake and Gloria Blake.

Knud E. Hermansen, Esq., Old Town, and Michael H. Griffin, Esq., Griffin & Jordan, LLC, Orono, for appellee Susan C. Harvey.

Edward C. Russell, Russell & Silver, P.A., Bangor, for appellees David Blake and Faith Blake (adopting brief of George Blake and Gloria Blake).

At oral argument: Michael J. O'Toole, Esq., for appellants Addison H. Furrow Jr. and Karen R. Lane.

Robert W. Laffin, Jr., for appellees George Blake and Gloria Blake.

Knud E. Hermansen, Esq., for appellee Susan C. Harvey.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ. Concurrence: ALEXANDER, J.

OPINION

Page 607

SILVER, J.

[¶1] Addison H. Furrow Jr. and Karen R. Lane appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) in favor of Susan C. Harvey on her claims of title by adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. Harvey cross-appeals from the court's judgment in favor of Furrow and Lane on Harvey's claims for slander of title and trespass. We conclude that the court properly found each element of adverse possession by constructive possession, and we find no error in the court's resolution of Harvey's claims for trespass and slander of title. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Furrow and Lane are the owners of record of an irregularly shaped parcel of land on Mattanawcook Lake in the town of Lincoln.[1] In 1998, Harvey's parents, Jack and Beverly Jensen, conveyed to Harvey a parcel that adjoined the Furrow property to the west, reserving a life estate for themselves.[2] Parties in interest George, Gloria, David, and Faith Blake (the Blakes) own parcels immediately to the west of Harvey's property. Harvey and the Blakes, relying on the property description that has appeared in deeds in Harvey's chain of title since 1931, contend that the Harvey-Furrow boundary is a straight line that effectively configures Harvey's lot into a narrow rectangle. Furrow and Lane, on the other hand, argue that the Harvey-Furrow boundary is made of two diagonal lines that meet at an " elbow." As a result, the parties disagree about the ownership of a roughly eleven-acre triangular area of land. See Figure 1.

Page 608

(Image Omitted)

Figure 1. The configuration of the disputed boundary as advocated by Harvey and the Blakes, on the left, and by Furrow and Lane, on the right. The disputed area is shaded.

[¶3] After some unsuccessful attempts to resolve this dispute, Harvey filed an amended complaint in April 2008 seeking to establish and quiet title to the disputed area and alleging claims of trespass and slander of title.[3] Furrow and Lane counterclaimed, asking the court to confirm their title and award damages for slander of title, common law and statutory trespass, and interference with an economic expectancy. The Blakes, as well as Lori Jensen-Marin, Albert Marin, and Terry McEwen were joined as necessary parties to the action by virtue of their ownership of property adjoining the disputed area.[4]

Page 609

[¶4] After extensive discovery and motion practice, the court held a five-day bench trial beginning on March 26, 2012. At the outset of the trial, the ...


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