Gorskis moved into a new house.Over they years they made improvements, including some external
stairs and a concrete walkway.
out, they were mistaken about where they property line was and the
walkway and stairs encroached on Mannillo's property by 15 inches.
or so years later, Mannillo realized the mistake. They sued Gorski for trespass.
argued that the 15 inches was now theirs due to adverse possession.
admitted that they were under the mistaken belief that they owned those
argued that there was no hostile nature to Gorski's encroachment, so adverse possession does not apply.
possession generally requires a
knowing wrongful intent to invade the land of another.
Trial Court found for Mannillo.Gorski appealed.
Trial Court found that Gorski's possession was "exclusive,
continuous, uninterrupted, visible, notorious, and against the rights and
interests of the true owner."
New Jersey case law shows that hostility is a requirement for adverse possession.You can't assert adverse possession due to a mistake.
New Jersey Supreme Court reversed and remanded for trial.
are two doctrines on this issue:
Maine Doctrine holds that it must
be the intention of the occupant to claim ownership of the land.(A subjective standard).
Connecticut Doctrine holds that
the very nature of the act is proof of intention, so there is no reason
to inquire into the mind of the possessor. (An objective standard).
New Jersey Supreme Court found that the Connecticut Doctrine made more sense and that hostility was not an
absolute requirement for adverse possession.
the Court was unwilling to throw out the requirement for "open and
most adverse possession cases,
the adverse possessor is taking an entire parcel of land, and it's
pretty obvious they are taking it.In this case, a small encroachment on a few inches of land is not
evident to the naked eye and requires a land surveyor to adjudicate.
owner must have "actual knowledge" of the encroachment.
case was remanded for trial to determine if Mannillo had knowledge (or
should have noticed) that Gorski was encroaching on his land.
were a number of other options that the Court could have considered.They could have forced Mannillo to
sell the 15" to Gorski.Alternately, they could have awarded Gorski an easement by
estoppel, and allowed Gorski to
continue to use the land, even though it would continue to belong to