Final Judgment Rule - Adverse Possession - Ore Tenus
Littleton v. Wells, [Ms. 2170948, Feb. 22, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2019). This unanimous decision by Judge Thompson reverses on ore tenus review the Chilton Circuit Court’s judgment denying the Littletons’ claim of adverse possession of a disputed parcel of property.
The court first considered sua sponte whether the judgment was final. The judgment ordered the plaintiffs to have a survey done depicting the boundary line determined by the circuit court. The court found the judgment to be final because it meticulously established the quarter-by-quarter section line. Ms. *12.
The circuit court’s judgment denying the Littletons’ claim of adverse possession did not contain any factual findings. Ms. *16. Consequently, the court applied the settled rule that on ore tenus review “‘in the absence of specific findings of fact, an appellate court will presume that the trial court made those findings necessary to support its judgment, unless such findings would be clearly erroneous.’” Ms. *17, quoting Baker v. Baker, 862 So. 2d 659, 662 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003).
The court reversed the judgment rejecting the Littletons’ claim of adverse possession. The court “conclud[ed] that there is no factual basis to support a determination that the Littletons had not been in actual, hostile, open, notorious, exclusive, and continuous possession of the disputed property for more than ten years.” Ms. *21.