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Tran v. Macha

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Macha sued Tran for ownership of a shared driveway that they claimed to have acquired ownership of through adverse possession.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Adverse possession does not exist if the parties are mistaken as to the ownership of the property, and there is shared use of the property.

    Facts.

    The owners of two houses, lot 5 and lot 6, used one driveway to access both of their houses. The driveway was thought to be owned by lot 5, but was actually owned by lot 6. Tran and Roser bought lot 6, while the Machas purchased lot 5. When the Machas discovered that the driveway was not on lot 5, they acquired a quitclaim deed to secure any interest in the driveway that the previous owners gained through adverse possession. Tran and Roser put up a fence around the driveway when they discovered that the driveway was owned by lot 6. The Machas sued.

    Issue.

    Whether adverse possession exists if the parties are mistaken as to the ownership of the property, and there is shared use of the property?

    Held.

    No. The judgment is reversed because no adverse possession existed. The ownership of the driveway remains with lot 6 because the driveway was shared, and no hostile possession existed. Similarly, the joint use of the driveway made the adverse possession unclear.

    Discussion.

    Adverse possession does not exist if the parties are mistaken as to the ownership of the property, and there is shared use of the property. Possession must be a forthright assertion of a claim, and not a mistake.


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