IRVING T. SMITH, JR., AND MALINDA F. SMITH APPELLANTS
LONNIE DEAN BOATMAN AND FLORA JEAN BOATMAN APPELLEES
FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16LCV-12-27] HONORABLE JOHN N. FOGLEMAN, JUDGE
Woodruff Law Firm, P.A., by: Jennifer Woodruff Douglas, for
Cobb & Byars, by: Jarrett Matthew Cobb, for appellees.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.
case involves a boundary-line dispute in Craighead County.
The appellants, Irving Smith and Malinda Smith, own property
adjacent to and directly west of property owned by the
appellees, Lonnie Boatman and Flora Boatman. When the Smiths
purchased their property in 2011, there was an old wire fence
traveling north to south, which encroached onto the
Smiths' land as surveyed and was about ten feet west of
the surveyed boundary line at the northern edge of their
property and six feet west of the surveyed boundary line at
the southern edge (sometimes referred to herein as the
"disputed strip of land"). Irving Smith made this
discovery after surveying his recently purchased property,
and in early 2012 he tore down the wire fence and built a new
fence near the location of the surveyed boundary of the
after Mr. Smith tore down the old fence and built the new
one, the Boatmans filed a petition to quiet title against the
Smiths. In their petition, the Boatmans alleged that the old
wire fence had served as the boundary line between their
property and the property to the west for at least forty
years. The Boatmans claimed ownership of the disputed strip
of land by adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence.
The Boatmans asked that the Smiths be ordered to remove the
new fence and pay damages for removal of the Boatmans'
pecan tree that was located on the disputed strip.
bench trial, the trial court entered an order quieting title
to the disputed strip of land in the Boatmans. The trial
court found that the old fence removed by Mr. Smith in 2012
had served as a dividing line between the properties for at
least forty years. The trial court found that the Boatmans
had acquired the disputed strip by both adverse possession
and acquiescence. The trial court ordered the Smiths to move
the new fence to the location of the old one and to pay $400
in damages for the destruction of the Boatmans' pecan
Smiths now appeal, raising two arguments for reversal. First,
the Smiths argue that the trial court erred in reaching the
conclusion that the Boatmans' predecessors in title had
satisfied the hostility element of adverse possession. The
Smiths also contend that the trial court lacked sufficient
evidence to make a finding of boundary by acquiescence with
regard to the Smiths' predecessor in title. We affirm.
review quiet-title and boundary-line actions de novo, but we
will not reverse findings of fact unless they are clearly
erroneous. Lafferty v. Everett, 2014 Ark.App. 332,
436 S.W.3d 479. A finding is clearly erroneous when, although
there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the
entire evidence is left with a definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been committed. Barton v.
Brockinton, 2017 Ark.App. 369, S.W.3d . In reviewing a
trial court's findings of fact, the appellate courts give
due deference to the trial court's superior position and
the weight to be accorded the testimony. Steele v.
Blankenship, 2010 Ark.App. 86, 377 S.W.3d 293.
Boatman testified that he has lived on his property since he
was five years old when his father bought the land in 1967.
Mr. Boatman's father sold him the property in 1988, and
Mr. Boatman and his wife Flora have lived there ever since.
Mr. Boatman testified that the old wire fence was built
around 1970 and remained there until torn down by Mr. Smith
in 2012. Mr. Boatman stated that they maintained the land up
to the fence and grew a garden there every year. According to
Mr. Boatman, no one other than him had ever maintained his
side of the fence since he bought his property in 1988. The
previous owner of the Smith property was Barton's Lumber
Company, and Mr. Boatman stated that they never had any
discussion about who owned the now-disputed strip of land.
Boatman also testified that she had never seen any previous
owner of the Smith property exercise any control of or claim
the now-disputed strip of land. Mrs. Boatman stated that they
used the disputed strip of land for gardening and had a pecan
tree on the strip from 1981 until it was bulldozed by Mr.
Smith in 2012. They used the pecan tree to sell pecans in the
fall and made about $100 per year. In the winter months, Mrs.
Boatman would clean the area around the fence and remove
Wycoff is the Boatmans' neighbor to the north and has
lived there for more than twenty years. When Mr. Wycoff first
moved there, Barton's Lumber Company was in operation on
the west side of the old fence which is now the Smith
property. According to Mr. Wycoff, the Boatmans used the
disputed strip of land and bush hogged to the fence about
twice a year. The Boatmans' garden went up to the fence.
Mr. Wycoff stated that Barton's Lumber used its side of
the fence to pile gravel and rocks. Mr. Wycoff said that the
Boatmans maintained their side of the fence and that
Barton's maintained its side, and that he never knew of
anyone claiming land east of the fence except the Boatmans.
Taylor is the Boatmans' neighbor to the south and has
lived there since 1982. Mr. Taylor testified that the
Boatmans always controlled the disputed strip of land and had
a garden there every year. When Mr. Smith was tearing down
the fence in 2012, Mr. Taylor told Mr. Smith that he thought
the fence was on Mr. Boatman's property, but Mr. Smith
told Mr. Taylor to mind his own business.
Irving Smith testified that after he bought his property in
2011 he noticed a survey marker to the east of the old fence
in the Boatmans' garden in what is now the disputed strip
of land. Mr. Smith then conducted his own survey and
discovered that the Boatmans' garden extended past the
surveyed property line. Mr. Smith then tore down the old
fence and built the new fence near his surveyed boundary
line, and he stated that while he was building the new fence
Mr. Boatman never tried to stop him. Smith further testified
that Mr. Boatman told him he might as well take out the pecan
tree too. Mr. Smith ...