Gray v Burns - It doesn't matter if an unrelated party acquiesced to the boundary

In Gray v Burns, an unpublished opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the Kalamazoo Circuit Court's decision to reform the parties' deeds because the boundary line that the trial court considered was acquiesced to was not the property line between the parties.

In 1903, a concrete fencepost was erected on property next to the property at issue 34 feet west of where the deed said the boundary was. After the initial incorrect deeds in the 1800s, all deeds for the involved property listed a boundary that was 34 feet east of this fence. All deeds line up with each other, and there is no competing claim of record. However, the fence was treated as the boundary by all property owners.

Gray obtained a survey of his property and discovered that the eastern boundary of his property ran through a neighbor's garage. He proposed a series of quitclaim deeds to his neighbors that would shift all the boundaries based on the fence that established the neighboring parcel's boundary. The Burns property would be the only property owner to lose land, they declined. Gray sued, and the trial court ruled that the boundary between the properties should be shifted 34 feet to the west based on acquiescence.

MCOA reversed, saying that there was no common grantor who relied on the fence to mark a boundary. Acquiescence could not apply to the parties here, because the fence establishes the boundary between Plaintiff's land and a nonparty's land. The shared boundary between the parties' properties is not affected by the true location of the boundary between plaintiff and the neighbors who did acquiesce to the fenceline.

MCOA remanded to figure out the status of the boundary between the property of the parties involved in the litigation.

Categories: Real Estate Law