Another Supreme Court Victory
Attorneys Rodney McPhee and Christopher Blanchard successfully represented Taft Hill Tree Farm, Inc., Eric S. Scott and Patricia M. Scott, on behalf of the First American Title Insurance Company, in defense of a quiet title action brought by an adjacent landowner. The Plaintiffs in the action asserted claims of record title and title by adverse possession to a parcel of land located in Townshend, Vermont.
The Plaintiffs' first claim of record title by way of a 1958 deed which purported to include the subject property was defeated by an in-depth analysis of the chain of title to the subject property, the Plaintiffs' property and the Defendants’ property dating back to 1806, which Attorneys McPhee and Blanchard completed and presented to the Court. Despite the Plaintiffs' claim that the 1958 deed’s description included the subject property and therefore gave them marketable title under 27 V.S.A. §601(a) (“Any person who holds an unbroken chain of titel of record to any interst in real estate for 40 years, shall at the end of that period be deemed to have a marketable record title to the interest. . . ."), the three-justice panel of the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed Judge Wesley’s Superior Court decision, Windham Unit, and held that “a claim of ‘marketable title’ pursuant to the statute does not trump a claim of record title pursuant to a chain of deeds.”
The Plaintiffs' second claim of ownership by adverse possession was based upon the argument that the only use for the subject property was logging and Plaintiffs (or their family members) had logged the subject property several times between 1940 and 1980. The Plaintiffs also claimed that they posted the subject property for an unspecified period of time as well. However, the three-justice panel again affirmed Judge Wesley’s decision holding that such acts did not satisfy the continuous and open use elements necessary for adverse possession. The decision issued by the Supreme Court recognizes that merely logging a portion of land may not be enough to obtain ownership through adverse possession.
To read the full decision, follow this link: