Adverse Possession Not Established, Trespass Was, And Attorney Fees Awarded.

The parties owned adjacent tracts that, since the 1930s, had been separated by a hedgerow that was about 50 to 70 feet wide  The hedgerow contained a hidden fence that marked the boundary between the tracts.  The defendant bought the property at a sheriff's sale in 1989 and took possession in 1990.  The plaintiff purchased the adjacent tract in 2004.  All prior owners had farmed their respective parcels up to the edge of the hedgerow with the area of cultivation on both sides dictated by the width of the hedgerow at the time.  There always had been mutual agreement that the fence was the boundary line.  A dispute developed over the installation of a new fence, culminating in the defendant claiming the disputed area by adverse possession.  The plaintiff had hired a surveyor to survey the area which ultimately showed that the defendant's fence was over onto the plaintiff by as much as almost 50 feet on one end.  The defendant claimed that the 2009 fence was in the same location at the one the defendant installed in 1990, but her testimony was contradicted.  The trial court determined that the property line had been clearly established and that the defendant had failed to establish adverse possession.  The hedgerow had grown back since the time the defendant cleared it out in 1990, thus resulting in no established use of the property.  The trial court also determined that, as a result of no adverse possession, the installation of the barbed wire fence in 2009 was a trespass.  The trial court also awarded the plaintiff damages due to the need to buy additional feed because the defendant's fence barred the plaintiff from pasturing his horses.   Damages were also awarded to cover the cost of the installation of a wooden fence to replace the barbed wire fence.  The damages were then trebled under the intentional trespass statute.  Attorney fees and costs were also awarded.  On appeal, the trial court's determinations were upheld on all points.  Wren, et al. v. Blakey, et al., No. 70691-8-1, 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 1952 (Wash. Ct. App. Aug. 11, 2014).       

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