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Fletcher v. Stewart

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 18, 2015

DELANO JACKSON FLETCHER and LINDA LOUISE FLETCHER, Husband and Wife, APPELLANTS
v.
VERNA STEWART and LINDA HAYES, APPELLEES

Page 379

APPEAL FROM THE CLEBURNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV-12-60. HONORABLE TIM WEAVER, JUDGE.

Thomas Law Firm, bye: Albert J. Thomas III, for appellants.

Terry J. Lynn and Robert S. Tscheimer, for appellees.

M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and BROWN, J., agree.

OPINION

Page 380

M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge

Appellants Delano and Linda Fletcher appeal from the trial court's order quieting title to disputed property in appellees Verna Stewart and Linda Hayes. Appellants argue that the trial court erred in finding that appellees had proved adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. We affirm.

Appellees, who are sisters, filed a petition to quiet title by adverse possession against appellants on March 12, 2012. They later filed amended petitions adding an alternative claim of boundary by acquiescence and three defendants they asserted may claim an interest in the property. The subject property was approximately twelve acres in Cleburne County that appellants had title to by deed but which appellees' family had possessed for decades.

Evidence at trial established that appellants had title to several tracts of land west of Center Ridge Road, including the subject property. Appellees had a deed for ten acres east of the road; however, family members had possessed the twelve acres west of the road as early as 1951. Evidence was introduced concerning a 1951 lawsuit brought by G.R. Miller, a predecessor in title of appellees, against Arvel Elms, a predecessor in title of appellants, to prevent Elms from building a fence along the west side of the county road that would have enclosed the twelve acres. Witnesses testified that in 1951 a surveyor established that the line dividing the properties was west of the twelve acres. Appellees and others recalled that they were told that Elms did not appear for court but that the matter was settled and a fence was built on the west side of the twelve acres instead of the east side of it along the county road. This fence partially remained. Two other fences were later constructed along the western boundary of the twelve acres. Linda Hayes testified that the parties in the 1951 lawsuit were told to build fences four feet from the surveyed line.

Appellees' parents, the Burlesons, began building the home that appellees grew up in on the subject property in 1956, although they were not deeded the ten acres from relatives G.R. and Julia Miller until 1967. The Burlesons gardened and raised chickens and cattle on the subject property. Friends and family members remembered

Page 381

a fence on the west side of the Burlesons' property that they understood to be the property line, and the fence was maintained to keep cows in. Appellees last lived at the home in the early 1970s. Mr. Burleson died in 1987, but Mrs. Burleson lived on the property until 2005. Mrs. Burleson never told anyone that someone had threatened to take her land. She later deeded the property to appellees.

Appellant Delano Jackson Fletcher testified that he bought eighty acres, including the disputed twelve acres, from Dorise Chastain in 1991 and 1992. Fletcher had known since the 1980s that the Burlesons lived on the subject property, and he did not believe he was buying that property when he purchased property from Chastain. He later discovered that the fences were in the wrong place after receiving a survey from Chastain. Fletcher testified that he told Mrs. Burleson about his discovery in 1993, and she told him that the matter had been settled in court a long time ago and that she had a deed to her property. Fletcher checked the courthouse records then reported back to Mrs. Burleson that the court case showed no ...


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