Teson v. Vasquez

Court of Appeals of Missouri, 1977.

561 S.W.2d 119.

Johnson, pp. 44-55


Facts: Teson and others filed petitions to quiet title to certain tracts of land they had occupied that previously had appeared to belong to Vasquez.


Issue: Which parcels have been taken away from the defendants by adverse possession?


Rule: The person claiming adverse possession must prove the following elements by the preponderance of the evidence: (1) actual possession, (2) hostile possession, (3) open and notorious possession, (4) exclusive possession, and (5) continuous possession over the course of the statutory period.


Analysis: The court goes through the steps for each claimant against the defendant, and find that some of the claims of adverse possession are valid, while others fail.(Itís really complicated!!!)


Tesonís claim to land near the river


Teson could not claim color of title to this land because it wasnít specifically mentioned in the 1925 deed.Thus, he would have to prove that he continuously occupied the entire tract for ten years.He failed to prove that he had continuously and actually occupied any particular part of this land.His possession was too sporadic, and also wasnít open and notorious.This land is awarded to the defendant, reversing the trial court.


Tesonís claim to land between the creek and the pond


Teson gets this land because there was sufficient evidence that he had farmed the land continuously for more than the statutory period.The land was in plain sight of the road, so his possession was indeed open and notorious.


Tesonís claim to land between the pond and the land near the river


The defendant gets this land because Tesonís color of title claim is no good.Thus, since Teson didnít have actual possession of the land, he doesnít get it.


Sommersís claim to land between the creek and the river


Sommers has color of title because he has a deed from the Littles from 1952.This deed said that the land was bounded by the river with all accretions.Sommers put up fences all the way to the river and built a barn.The testimony is in dispute as to whether Sommersís possession was continuous, but since there is no question of law, the appellate court defers to the judgment of the trial court.


Keeven and Behleís claim to land between the creek and the river


Keevan and Behle had color of title and satisfied the statutory period by tacking their possession to the Hagens. Basically, this seems to mean that if the Hagens had stayed on the land, they would have had a potential adverse possession claim after ten years of being on the property.Keeven and Behle basically get the benefit of the time that has already run.They did lots of work on the property.They put cows and hogs on the land and paid taxes.They also put up fences.Since they had color of title, they only have to have actual possession of a part of the land with intent to possess the whole for the statutory period.The trial court says that they did and the appellate court agrees.


Conclusion: The trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part.Keeven and Behle and Sommers win outright.Klaus loses entirely.Teson only gets the land between the creek and the pond.


Notes and Questions






5.     (1) If O was 10 years old when P took possession, then the action is not barred, assuming O is now old enough to sue.O actually can sue up to the age of 24, and O would appear to be 20 now.(2) Now it would appear that O is 25, and thus it would depend on whether the three extra years start when O is 21 or whether they add on to the original 7 years.If the former is true, the suit is barred because it has been over 7 years since P took possession and it has also been more than 3 years since O turned 21.If the latter is true, O may get in just under the wire if itís still ďwithinĒ the ten year period.(3) This one depends on whether O is mentally ill now.If O just got better from being mentally ill, then O has three years to sue.If O is still mentally ill, it would appear that he has three years from when he gets better in which to sue.

6.     The first thing to do is add up all the times.5 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 1 + 2 weeks + 2 months + 3 months + more than 3 = more than 22 years, 5 months, and two weeks.So if everybody can tack onto everybody else, there may be a case for adverse possession.It would seem like O owns Blackacre either way, though, because either O never lost possession or D got it by adverse possession and gave it back to O.Maybe thatís the trick to the question.So either O owns it or the chain got broken somewhere along the way.Given how ridiculously complicated the problem is, itís probably a trick question.So there you go.



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