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Vick v. Elliot

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

May 17, 2013

DAVID C. VICK, APPELLANT
v.
BELINDA K. ELLIOT and her spouse, LAL ELLIOT; GARY W. DOOM and his spouse, JENNIFER DOOM; MARSHA K. DOOM, now Metzger, and her spouse, JOE METZGER; SHERI L. TRIMBLE and her spouse, DANNY TRIMBLE; GARY W. DOOM, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF S.C. DOOM, JR., deceased; AND THE UNKNOWN HEIRS OF S.C. DOOM, JR., deceased, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM LIVINGSTON CIRCUIT COURT. HONORABLE CLARENCE A. WOODALL III, JUDGE. ACTION NO. 10-CI-00155.

BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: L. Miller Grumley, Paducah, Kentucky.

BRIEF FOR APPELLEES: William F. McGee, Jr., Smithland, Kentucky.

BEFORE: ACREE, CHIEF JUDGE; TAYLOR AND VANMETER, JUDGES. ALL CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 278

AFFIRMING

VANMETER, JUDGE:

David Vick appeals from the judgment of the Livingston Circuit Court which denied his claim to quiet title and granted the counterclaim of adverse possession asserted by Belinda K. Elliott, et al.[1] (hereinafter collectively referred to as the " Doom heirs" ). Finding no error, we affirm.

Page 279

Vick filed the underlying action to quiet title to a 150-acre tract of property located in Livingston County that he purchased in 2007. The property abuts a tract which was purchased by S.C. Doom, Jr. from Keith Walker and his wife in 1990. Doom Jr. died intestate in 2010, and the property passed to his heirs. When Vick purchased the 150 acres, a dispute arose between the adjoining landowners concerning a parcel of property in the shape of a triangle that was encompassed by an old fence on the side of the Doom property, but was contained within the property description of the Vick property. Believing the parcel of property to be his, Vick tore down a deer stand and portions of the fence erected on the parcel. He then filed this action to quiet his title. The Doom heirs filed a counterclaim alleging title to the parcel of property by way of adverse possession.

During a bench trial, Walker testified that he had lived on what is now the Doom property until 1960 and his father lived on the property until approximately 1970. No one has lived on the property since that time. Keith stated that the fence enclosing the parcel has been in place since at least the 1940s and that his family had always treated it as the boundary line separating their property and the Vick property. Keith and his family would often hunt up to the fence line.

Earl Sullivant testified that within one or two years after Doom Jr. purchased the Doom property in 1990, he and Doom Jr. erected a deer stand on the parcel. Gary Doom, a Doom heir, testified that he and his brother regularly visited the farm after its purchase by their father. The farm was primarily used for hunting, fishing, and gardening. Gary testified that he never hunted across the fence line without permission, and no dispute over the fence line or the location of the deer stand occurred until Vick purchased the adjoining property.

The trial court denied Vick's claim to quiet title with respect to the parcel of property and granted the Doom heirs' claim to title through adverse possession. The trial court concluded that due to the nature of the property and the substantial length of time the fence was treated as a boundary line, the property was adversely possessed for the statutory period of time, despite its use for only recreational purposes since 1970. This appeal followed.

Our standard of review with respect to property title disputes is to determine " whether or not the trial court was clearly erroneous or abused its discretion[.]" Phillips v. Akers, 103 S.W.3d 705, 709 (Ky. App. 2002) (citing Church & Mullins Corp. v. Bethlehem Minerals Co., 887 S.W.2d 321, 323, 39 6 Ky. L. Summary 20 (Ky. 1992). We will not set aside factual findings of the trial court " unless they are clearly erroneous, that ...


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