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Mercer v. Wayman

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

Law Dictionary

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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.9 Ill. 2d 441, 137 N.E.2d 815 (1956)

Brief Fact Summary. This case involved a dispute between the Plaintiffs, the widow and children of Fred Mercer, deceased (Plaintiffs) and the Defendants, surviving sons of Lora Wayman, deceased, and the widow and daughter of Verne Wayman, deceased (Defendants), to set aside oil and gas leases by the Defendants and to have the Plaintiffs declared the sole owners of the 40 acre tract in question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The rule is well settled that the mere possession by one tenant in common who receives all the rents and profits and pays the taxes assessed against the property, no matter how long a period, cannot be set up as a bar against the cotenants.


Facts. This case involved a dispute between the Plaintiffs and the Defendants to set aside oil and gas leases by the Defendants and to have the Plaintiffs declared the sole owners of the 40-acre tract in question. Originally, the tract was owned in fee simple by John Mercer, who died intestate, leaving him with sole heirs at law his widow, five sons and two daughters. Thereafter, one of the daughters, Lora Wayman, died intestate and was survived by Oscar Wayman, husband, and three minor sons, Verne Wayman, June Wayman and Paul Wayman. On May 7, 1920, the widow of John Mercer, four of the sons and the surviving daughter, together with their spouses, joined in a quitclaim deed conveying the 40-acre tract to the remaining son Fred Mercer and wife. Oscar Wayman, husband of the deceased Lora Wayman, joined in the conveyance individually and as “father and natural guardian of Verne Wayman, June Wayman and Paul Wayman, children of Lora Wayman, deceased.” The deed purported to convey “all in
terest” to Fred Mercer and wife for consideration of an assumption of existing mortgage. Fred Mercer and wife entered upon the property and farmed the property until the present time, 1956. The property was assessed in the name of Fred Mercer and all taxes were paid when due. Fred Mercer and wife executed three separate mortgages warranted upon their fee simple ownership. The Plaintiffs, widow and children of Fred Mercer, executed oil and gas leases in 1938, 1939, and 1953. Subsequent to the 1953 lease by the Plaintiffs to J.T. Thompson, the Defendants also executed leases to Thompson. These leases are the leases the Plaintiffs are suing to set aside. The youngest child of Lora Wayman attained majority on July 1, 1926. Neither the Defendants nor any other member of the Wayman family ever made a claim to any right, title or interest in the land, nor have the Defendants sought an accounting of rents or profits. The Plaintiffs contend that their possession of the tract ripened into title
and that Defendants are barred from any claim to the premises by reason of both the 20-year statute of limitations and the 7-year statute of limitations. The Defendants claim to be owners of an undivided 1/7th of the tract and are not barred by the statute of limitations because there has been no actual ouster. The trial court found the Defendants to be barred by the statute of limitations. The Defendants appealed.

Issue. Are the Defendants’ claims barred by the statute of limitations?

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