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Manillo v. Gorski

    Brief Fact Summary. Action to settle a claim of title by adverse possession when the possessor was under a mistaken belief the encroached upon land belong to her.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Entry and possession of land for the required time which is exclusive, continuous, uninterrupted, visible and notorious, even though under a mistaken claim of title, is sufficient to support a claim of title by adverse possession. In order to be open and notorious, a minor encroachment along a boundary line must be known by the true possessor of the land.

    Facts. In 1946 the Defendant Gorski (Defendant) and her husband entered into possession of premises, under an agreement to purchase. In compliance with the terms of the agreement, the seller conveyed said lands to them in 1952. During the summer of 1946, the Defendant’s son made additions and changes to the Defendant’s house. Some of the changes to the house encroached on the Plaintiffs’, Fred Manillo and Alice Mannillo (Plaintiffs), land by 15 inches. The Defendant contends she is entitled to the land by adverse possession. Plaintiffs contend the Defendant did not obtain title to the land because the possession was not hostile in nature, as the Defendant did not intend to encroach upon the land.

    Issue. Whether an entry and continued possession under the mistaken belief that the possessor has title to the lands involved, exhibits the requisite hostile possession to sustain the obtaining of title by adverse possession?
    Whether the Defendant’s acts meet the standard of open and notorious?

    Held. Remanded.
    Yes, a mistaken belief that the possessor has title to lands involved, exhibits the requisite hostile possession to sustain the obtaining of title by adverse possession.
    No presumption of knowledge arises from a minor encroachment along a common boundary, unless the true owner has actual knowledge there of the possession.

    Discussion. Acquisition of title by adverse possession requires possession that is open and notorious, actual and exclusive, continuous and hostile for the statutory period of time. A mistaken belief that the land in possession is the possessors land will satisfy the hostility requirement. If the encroachment is upon a common boundary and is only minor, the factors of open and notorious will not be satisfied unless the true owner of the property knew about the encroachment.


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