Carter v. Hanrath

Decision Date22 October 1996
Docket NumberNo. 940592,940592
Citation925 P.2d 960
PartiesRoyden V. CARTER, Plaintiff and Petitioner, v. Shirley HANRATH and Magdalene Stevens, Defendants and Respondents.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

Brant H. Wall, Cory R. Wall, Salt Lake City, for plaintiff.

Frederick N. Green, Julie V. Lund, Salt Lake City, for defendants.

Robert L. Froerer, Ogden, for amicus Utah Council of Land Surveyors.

HOWE, Justice:

We granted certiorari to review a decision by the court of appeals in this case. Carter v. Hanrath, 885 P.2d 801 (Ct.App.1994), cert. granted, 899 P.2d 1231 (Utah 1995). We here state only a brief summary of the facts and refer the reader to the court of appeals' opinion for a more detailed statement of the facts and the evidence.

Plaintiff Royden V. Carter and defendants Shirley Hanrath and Magdalene Stevens are adjoining property owners in Duchesne County. Plaintiff is the owner of the north 1/2 of the N.E. 1/4 of section 20, Township 2 South, Range 6 West, Uintah Special Base and Meridian. Defendants are the owners of the S.E. 1/4 of section 17 in the same township and range. The boundary between the two descriptions is the section line which separates section 17 located to the north from section 20 on the south. Defendants' property consists of 160 acres which are undeveloped and unimproved. Eighty percent, or 148 acres, of the tract lies on a flat plateau. Approximately 700 feet north of the section line, the plateau abruptly ends at steep cliffs and ledges. The remaining twenty percent, or 32 acres, of defendants' property is on a lower level below the cliffs and ledges. Through this lower part, the Duchesne River courses. There is no access to this part from the plateau above. It is this part which is in dispute.

Plaintiff's property is relatively flat and has been used for farming and livestock raising by him and his predecessors in title since at least 1920. During that time, the property has been fenced on both the east and west sides. These fences extend across the section line and the Duchesne River and are anchored in the cliffs and ledges on defendants' property. Plaintiff's predecessors constructed a shed and feeding stalls across the section line near the river to shelter and feed their livestock.

Until January of 1960, defendants' property was owned by the United States. At that time, it was conveyed into private ownership, and in September of 1961, it was acquired by Alva and Barbara Schrader. They purchased the property without inspecting it in any way. They resided in California and visited the property once when from a neighbor's land they saw cattle on the disputed area. After the death of Alva Schrader, Barbara Schrader conveyed the property to defendants Hanrath and Stevens in August of 1986. At that time, the property was surveyed, apparently for the first time, and the section line was located south of the river and approximately 700 feet south of the cliffs and ledges. Defendants made demand upon plaintiff to withdraw from possession of the area of their land lying between the section line and the cliffs and ledges. Plaintiff refused to do so and brought this action to quiet title to that area.

The trial court found that plaintiff and his predecessors in title had been in physical possession of the disputed area since 1920 and had used it for farming and the raising of livestock; that all during that time, the area was fenced on both the east and west sides right up to the base of the cliffs and ledges; that if defendants' predecessors in title had inspected their property, they could have seen the occupation and use made of the disputed area by plaintiff and his predecessors, but that they at no time challenged, contested, or otherwise objected to such use; that the cliffs and ledges constituted a natural monument in which the adjoining owners had acquiesced as the boundary between them for more than fifty years. On the basis of our case law on boundary by acquiescence, the court quieted title to the disputed area in plaintiff. Defendants appealed to this court, and we transferred the case to the court of appeals. That court affirmed the trial court's decree. 885 P.2d 801. We granted certiorari to review the decision of the court of appeals.

Defendants assail, on several grounds, the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's decree. However, it will be necessary for us to discuss only one ground. Our case law makes it clear that there are four requirements which must be met before boundary by acquiescence can be established. They are:

(1) occupation up to a visible line marked definitely by monuments, fences, or buildings, and

(2) mutual acquiescence in the line as a boundary,

(3) for a long period of time,

(4) by adjoining land owners.

Staker v. Ainsworth, 785 P.2d 417, 420 (Utah 1990). As to the fourth requirement, we have held that boundary by acquiescence cannot be established when one...

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6 cases
  • Ault v. Holden
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • March 26, 2002
    ...Equip. Co., 581 P.2d 998, 1000 (Utah 1978); Fuoco v. Williams, 18 Utah 2d 282, 286, 421 P.2d 944, 947 (1966); see also Carter v. Hanrath, 925 P.2d 960, 960 (Utah 1996) ("The rule of boundary by acquiescence serves a useful and practical purpose when applied . . . where adjoining owners are ......
  • James v. Griffin
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • May 22, 2001
    ...estopped from claiming title to the disputed land); Carter v. Hanrath, 885 P.2d 801, 804 (Utah Ct.App.1994), rev'd on other grounds, 925 P.2d 960 (Utah 1996) (stating that once the elements of boundary by acquiescence are established, there is a presumption of [¶ 20] The majority insists Ja......
  • Anderson v. Fautin
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • May 31, 2016
    ...occupancy in relation to mutual acquiescence).40 29 Utah 2d 119, 505 P.2d 1199 (Utah 1973).41 Id. at 1200.42 See Carter v. Hanrath , 925 P.2d 960, 962 (Utah 1996).43 King , 378 P.2d at 896.44 E.g. , Orton , 970 P.2d at 1257 (“Four requirements must be met for a court to find a boundary by a......
  • Anderson v. Fautin
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • June 26, 2014
    ...v. Hanrath ( Carter I ), 885 P.2d 801 (Utah Ct.App.1994), and a Utah Supreme Court opinion that reversed it, see Carter v. Hanrath ( Carter II ), 925 P.2d 960 (Utah 1996). ¶ 10 But those cases, while helpful to an analysis of mutual acquiescence, fail to shed much light on whether occupatio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Unification of the Doctrines of Adverse Possession and Practical Location in the Establishment of Boundaries
    • United States
    • University of Nebraska - Lincoln Nebraska Law Review No. 78, 2021
    • Invalid date
    ...ed., 1971). 35. See, e.g., Ollinger v. Bennett, 562 N.W.2d 167 (Iowa 1997); Carter v. Hanrath, 885 P.2d 801 (Utah Ct. App. 1994), rev'd, 925 P.2d 960 (Utah 1996). 36. See, e.g., Dobrinsky v. Waddell, 599 N.E.2d 188 (Ill. App. Ct. 1992). 37. It is, of course, true that the statute of limitat......
  • Article
    • United States
    • Utah State Bar Utah Bar Journal No. 27-6, December 2014
    • Invalid date
    ...adjoining owners). Boundary by acquiescence may not be invoked w hen one of the properties is in the public domain. Carter v. Hanrath, 925 P.2d 960, 962 (Utah 1996). In addition, the dispute must involve a common boundary. For example, in Switzgable v. Worseldine, 15 P. 144 (Utah 1887), the......

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