Brief Fact Summary. Rebori (Defendant) conveyed land to Pritchard (Plaintiff) along with a covenant against incumbrances. When Plaintiff began construction of a warehouse in accordance with the specific legal description in the deed from Defendant, the Southern Railway Company notified Plaintiff that his construction was encroaching on a pre-existing right of way easement in favor of the railway.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The general rule is that in determining boundaries resort is to be had, first, to natural objects or landmarks, because of their permanent character, next to artificial monuments or marks, then to the boundary lines of adjacent owners, and then to courses or distances. The general rule is not an absolute or inflexible rule.
Issue. What is the proper measure of the description contained in the deed to Plaintiff from Defendant?
Held. The deed is held to be particular in its description, such that Plaintiff was justified in relying on the description. Affirmed.
The general rule is that in determining boundaries resort is to be had, first, to natural objects or landmarks, because of their permanent character, next to artificial monuments or marks, then to the boundary lines of adjacent owners, and then to courses or distances. The general rule is not an absolute or inflexible rule.
The interest of the court is to determine the intention of the parties of a disputed deed. The intention of the parties applies to the description section of a deed as well as the conveyance section.
The Defendant contended that the line of the parcel conveyed to Plaintiff must stop at the edge of the 50 feet right of way from the tracks, and that the deed could not convey, despite its language, more than what Defendant owned.
The court cited White v. Luning, 93 U.S. 514, for the proposition that, “[w]here the lines are so short as evidently to be susceptible of entire accuracy in their measurement, and are defined in such a manner as to indicate an exercise of care in describing the premises, such a description is regarded with great confidence as a means of ascertaining what is intended to be conveyed.”
The court also stated that parole evidence was admissible to show whether the parcel intended to be conveyed included the surveyed line or the line actually used the by the parties.
Discussion. The Defendant should have made some ascertainment of the proper boundary lines prior to making the conveyance to Plaintiff. When making new surveys of lands, it would seem fairly advisable to discovery potential incumbrances in order to avoid the type of liability experienced here by Defendant.