(251) 299-0101

Boundary Lines, Adverse Possession, Injunction, and Damages

Kennedy v. Conner, [Ms. 2180063, June 7, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2019). The court unanimously affirms a judgment of the Baldwin Circuit Court establishing a boundary line between waterfront residential real estate parcels based upon adverse possession. The court also affirms the trial court's grant of a permanent injunction against trespass by the neighboring property owner and an award of damages for earlier trespasses.

Following ore tenus proceedings, the trial court entered a judgment declaring that plaintiff acquired title to the disputed parcel by adverse possession in that he had

"[F]or over ten years, [Conner] has been in actual possession and has continuously, openly and notoriously maintained, mowed, utilized exclusively and claimed exclusively her property along a line from the property corner immediately west of and nearest her driveway entrance (located where [Kennedy] recently placed a temporary power pole and water meter) to the base of the bent oak tree southward to the historic iron axle marker and survey-placed capped rebar, and then further to the piling placed a short distance out into the water, treating that as the understood boundary line between the lot with [Kennedy] and his predecessors in title. Therefore, [Conner] has satisfied the elements of adverse possession and the Court declares said line of actual possession to be the common boundary line between the subject lots. See Bearden v. Ellison, 560 So. 2d 1042, 1044 (Ala. 1990); Smith v. Brown, 213 So. 2d 374 (1968)."

Ms. *13. The trial court also entered an order granting injunctive relief enjoining the adjacent property owner and his contractors "from coming onto [plaintiff's] property," "from taunting, threatening, or harassing [plaintiff], her family, or any witnesses that participated in this matter or their families," and "from blatantly blaring music over and above the local noise ordinances in a harassing manner." Ms. *14. The trial court's judgment also awarded plaintiff "nominal compensatory damages in the amount of $500 and punitive damages in the amount of $2,500" upon concluding the adjacent property owner was liable for wilfully trespassing upon the plaintiff's property. Ms. *15.

After reciting the appellate standard of review for ore tenus proceedings in boundary line dispute cases (Ms. *17-18), the court explains that proof of statutory adverse possession pursuant to § 6-5-200, Ala. Code 1975, is required to be shown by clear and convincing evidence. Ms. *18-20. Upon reviewing the evidence of adverse possession (Ms. *20-32), the court, citing the totality of the evidence presented to the trial court, determines the trial court could have concluded that the actions of mowing the grass and placing an iron axle as a boundary marker were sufficient evidence to affirm the trial court's judgment. Ms. *32-42.

Following review of the evidence supporting the trial court's judgment awarding injunctive relief, the court finds the appellant's arguments for reversal inadequate pursuant to Rule 28(a)(10), Ala. R. App. P.

Finally, the court concludes the evidence before the trial court was sufficient to support both the compensatory and the punitive damages awards. Ms. *44-48.

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