Barnett v. Millis, 6 Div. 628

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Citation286 Ala. 681,246 So.2d 78
Docket Number6 Div. 628
PartiesHerman BARNETT et al. v. Jessie Mae MILLIS et al.
Decision Date11 March 1971

Asa C. Hartwig and James E. Thompson, Cullman, for appellants.

Knight & Knight, Cullman, for appellees.

LAWSON, Justice.

This is an appeal from a decree of the Circuit Court of Cullman County, in Equity, which established a boundary line between lands of appellants on the east and lands of appellees on the west, which lands are situated in the Southwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 10, Township 10 South, Range 2 West, Cullman County, Alabama.

The complainants below, in their amended bill, alleged that they and the respondents below are coterminous landowners.

Paragraph 7a of the amended bill of complaint reads:

'Your Complainants would further show that the true land line between Complainants and Respondents has been established for more than twenty years and Complainants have used their property up to said true land line for more than twenty years; that said true land line was marked by a fence extending north and south, which said fence marked the true line between the parties' lands for a period of more than twenty years, during which time your Complainants and their predecessors in title have, under claim of right, had actual occupancy, claim definite, positive, notorious, continued, adverse and exclusive possession of the lands to said fence for more than twenty years, all with the intention to claim title to the lands in question to said fence, and that said fence was fixed, definite, established, acquiesced, agreed upon and abided by as being the boundary line between Complainants' and Respondents' predecessors in title for more than twenty years, and Complainants aver and charge that the Respondents removed said fence but the location of said fence can be established by competent evidence. Your Complainant, Jessie Mae Millis', concrete driveway has been established on said line for more than twenty years and your Complainant, Jessie Mae Millis, has claimed title to the lands to the east end of said concrete driveway for more than twenty years; further that your Complainant, Jessie Mae Millis, has had actual occupancy and claimed definite, positive, notorious, continued, adverse and exclusive possession of the lands to the east end of said driveway for more than twenty years. That said driveway is the only means of ingress and egress that your Complainant, Jessie Mae Millis, has to her property, above described, located immediately adjacent to U.S. Highway 278 East.'

Appellants, respondents below, filed their answer admitting coterminous ownership; denying that the true line is as claimed by appellees; and alleging as follows:

'* * * the land lines between complainants' land and respondents' land have heretofore been established by a competent surveyor and the Court should render a decree declaring that said lines, as established by said surveyor, is the true and correct land line between complainants' land and respondents' land. * * *'

Following hearing at which the testimony was taken ore tenus, the trial court established a boundary line substantially as claimed by the complainants, appellees.

From that decree the respondents below appealed to this court.

We will allude to certain principles which have been established or recognized in our cases which have dealt with boundary line disputes.

Equity has jurisdiction to determine disputed boundary lines.--s 2, Title 47, Code 1940; § 129, Title 13, Code 1940; Branyon v. Kirk, 238 Ala. 321, 191 So. 345; Smith v. Cook, 220 Ala. 338, 124 So. 898.

A boundary line between adjacent landowners which is not controlled by a government survey or subsectional lines located on the basis of a government survey may be changed by adverse possession.--Morgan v. Larde, 282 Ala. 426, 212 So.2d 594; Stokes v. Hart, 273 Ala. 279, 139 So.2d 300; Whiddon v. White, 285 Ala. 109, 229 So.2d 498; Sims v. Sims, 273 Ala. 103, 134 So.2d 757.

The provisions of § 828, Title 7, Code 1940, to the effect that adverse possession cannot confer or defeat title to land unless the party claiming adverse possession shall show that a deed or other color of title has been recorded for ten years, or unless such party or those through whom he claims has assessed the land for taxation for a period of ten years, if the land is subject to taxation, have no application to cases involving a question as to boundaries between coterminous owners. Section 828, Title 7, Supra, expressly so provides.--Salter v. Cobb, 264 Ala. 609, 88 So.2d 845; Stokes v. Hart, Supra; Sylvest v. Stowers, 276 Ala. 695, 166 So.2d 423; Smith v. Brown, 282 Ala. 528, 213 So.2d 374.

In a boundary line suit the trial court should establish the true boundary line whether or not it is the one contended for by either party.--Deese v. Odom, 283 Ala. 420, 218 So.2d 134.

If a coterminous landowner holds actual possession of a disputed strip under a claim of right openly and exclusively for a continuous period of ten years, believing that he is holding to the true line, he thereby acquires title up to that line, even though the belief as to the correct location originated in a mistake, and it is immaterial what he might or might not have claimed had he known he was mistaken.--Sylvest v. Flowers, Supra; Smith v. Brown, Supra.

The rule has been applied in boundary line disputes that questions of adverse possession are questions of fact properly determined by the trier of facts and the determination so made, where the evidence is taken orally, as here, is favored with a presumption of correctness and will not be disturbed on appeal unless plainly erroneous or manifestly unjust.--Butts v. Lancaster, 279 Ala. 589, 188 So.2d 548; Morgan v. Larde, Supra.

The reason frequently given for that rule is that the trial court can better judge the credibility of witnesses by seeing and hearing them testify. That rule is particularly appropriate in this case because most of the witnesses were questioned about lines, locations, distances, monuments, culverts, fences and the like which appeared on a diagram which had been drawn on a blackboard.

The answers of the witnesses given in response to questions so propounded are meaningless to us, since we do not have the pointing finger or any information which enables us to determine the particular line, location, distance, monument, culvert or fence to which the witness referred. The trial court was not so limited. See Christian v. Reed, 265 Ala. 533, 92 So.2d 881;...

To continue reading

Request your trial
30 cases
  • Parker v. Rhoades
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • December 16, 2016
    ...locations, distances, monuments, culverts, fences and the like" by pointing or verbally referring to a diagram. Barnett v. Millis, 286 Ala. 681, 684, 246 So.2d 78, 80 (1971).... An appellate court is without the benefit of the "pointing finger or any information which enables [it] to determ......
  • Kennedy v. Conner
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • June 7, 2019
    ...locations, distances, monuments, culverts, fences and the like’ by pointing or verbally referring to a diagram. Barnett v. Millis, 286 Ala. 681, 684, 246 So. 2d 78, 80 (1971).... An appellate court is without the benefit of the ‘pointing finger or any information which enables [it] to deter......
  • Baldwin v. McClendon
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 24, 1974
    ...making his finding of fact. Casey v. Keeney, 290 Ala. 94, 274 So.2d 68; Page v. Jacobson, 289 Ala. 114, 266 So.2d 271; Barnett v. Millis, 286 Ala. 681, 246 So.2d 78; Lawson v. Garrett, 286 Ala. 125, 237 So.2d 648. We cannot say from the evidence that the trial judge's findings are plainly e......
  • Shirey v. Pittman
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • November 30, 2007
    ...locations, distances, monuments, culverts, fences and the like' by pointing or verbally referring to a diagram. Barnett v. Millis, 286 Ala. 681, 684, 246 So.2d 78, 80 (1971).... An appellate court is without the benefit of the `pointing finger or any information which enables [it] to determ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT