Boundary Line Litigation

Olson, Lucas, Redford & Wahlberg has litigated many cases involving location of boundary lines and access.

Issues often come up when a new survey is done.  A survey may correctly locate corners, lines, angles, lake shore intersection, fences and encroaching structures.  But ownership may actually change hands over time (even without a court order) if a neighbor puts up a fence, a retaining wall, a line of trees or shrubs, or a shed (as examples) and the plant or improvement is allowed to remain for an extended period of time.  There is a statute of limitations to recover land which might apply.

It is generally said that to win land by adverse possession a claimant must prove five separate elements.  He/she must have actual possession.  The possession must be open.  Possession has to be continuous.  The possession must be exclusive.  Last, it must be hostile.  Hostile possession only means that the claimant acts consistent with a belief in ownership.

A separate legal theory is called boundary by practical location and could also change ownership to land.  This can occur where neighbors agreed at one time on the location of a boundary.  It could happen when one stands by when another builds a fence in the wrong location and says nothing.  And it can happen if a fence or other structure is put near a surveyed boundary and then remains for 15 years or more.  The boundary may be established due to one of these three situations.

At times the claimant must pay the real estate taxes on disputed land.  Usually, this does not apply in ordinary boundary line cases.  It more often will apply when land claimed has a separate tax identification number.

The burden is on the person claiming adverse possession to prove he or she is entitled.  The burden of proof is by clear and convincing evidence.

Easements and road access are sometimes obtained through use or occupancy.  Access may also be obtained through purchase; through cartway or cart path claims; through express and implied easements; and by prescriptive easements.

We have successfully litigated or mediated many such cases.  Tom Olson, Scott Lucas and other firm members have spoken and written on boundary law for many years.

Olson published an article for lawyers in the Hennepin Lawyer in November 2010.  A Review of Boundary Law.

Tom Olson and Scott Lucas chaired an all day seminar on boundary and access law presented to a large continuing legal education group at the Minnesota State Bar Association during the summer of 2011.  Olson, Lucas and Redford each presented on related topics.