WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Merriman and Cokeley disputed over a triangle of property that the trial court quieted in favor of the Cokeleys. Merriman appeals. Merrimans argue that they acquired the property through either mutual recognition or adverse possession. Cokeleys cross-appeal arguing that they should have been awarded attorneys fees.
The parties own adjacent lots. Prior to the Cokeleys ownership, the adjacent lots were surveyed but not recorded. No changes were made from 1993- 2002. After the Cokeleys purchase of the property they had another survey completed that indicated the one previously had been incorrect, leaving a triangular area to the Merrimans that should have been part of their property. The previous property owner never disputed the first survey and recognized the triangle property as the Merriman’s property. The Cokeleys saw the original survey markers prior to buying the property. Finally, the Merriman’s improved the property and took care of it by watering, trimming, and tending to the plants.
The appeals court ruled that the Merrimans met the three requirements of the mutual recognition and acquiescence doctrine. The three requirements are that the boundary line be well defined, the parties must have acted in good faith by their acts, occupancy, and improvements to determine the boundary line, and the mutual recognition must have continued for the time period of adverse possession (10 years).
The appeals court reversed and remanded to trial court to quiet title in favor of the Merrimans and affirmed the trial court’s denial of the Cokeley’s attorneys fees.
Judge Armstrong dissents.