This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ' 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Shetek Baptist Camp, Inc.,
Ernest F. Yaeger, a/k/a Ernest Yaeger, et al.,
Filed July 9, 1996
Reversed and remanded
Murray County District Court
File No. C594248
Joel C. Wiltrout, Lucht, Wiltrout, and Ahlquist, 906 Third Avenue, Worthington, MN 56187 (for Respondent)
Paul M. Malone, Malone & Mailander, 2605 Broadway Avenue, Slayton, MN 56172 (for Appellants)
Considered and decided by Norton, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this adverse possession action, Ernest Yaeger argues that the district court's findings were insufficient to support its conclusion that respondent adversely possessed the disputed land; the evidence was insufficient to support the district court's decision; and the district court erred in failing to address his counterclaim. We agree the district court's findings were insufficient and reverse and remand.
Appellant Ernest Yaeger and respondent Shetek Baptist Camp, Inc. own adjacent lakeshore properties. A township road runs north between the properties toward the lake. About 400 feet south of the lake, the road turns to the east and runs parallel to the lakeshore through Yaeger's land.
When Yaeger had his land surveyed, the parties discovered that the road is not located on the boundary line between the properties but, instead, runs at a slight northeast angle through Yaeger's land. The camp sued Yaeger, and all others with an interest in the property, claiming it had acquired title through adverse possession to the land between the actual boundary line and a line running along the middle of the road straight north to the lake. Yaeger brought a counterclaim arguing that if the camp had adversely possessed this land, he was entitled to recover the cost of improvements made to the property.
The parties eventually stipulated that the camp owned parts of the disputed tract, but they could not agree who owned the lakeshore section. After a bench trial, the district court found that from 1918 to 1984, the camp and its predecessors were in actual and open possession of the disputed area. The court then concluded that the camp and its predecessors had acquired title to the disputed land though adverse possession. Yaeger filed a motion for a new trial or for amended findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court issued an amended order correcting one typographical error and denying Yaeger's motions.
D E C I S I O N
Yaeger argues that the district court's findings are insufficient to support its conclusion that the camp adversely possessed the disputed property because the findings do not address whether the camp's possession was continuous, hostile, or exclusive. We agree. To establish title by adverse possession, the claimant must show by clear and convincing evidence, actual, open, hostile, continuous, and exclusive possession of the land for a period of 15 years. Nash v. Mahan, 377 N.W.2d 56, 58 (Minn. App. 1985); see also Minn. Stat. ' 541.02 (1994) (statute of limitations). When adverse possession is claimed,
there should be a precise finding by the trial court that the factual elements necessary for such title acquisition have been established by the party making such a claim.
Konantz v. Stein, 283 Minn. 33, 37, 167 N.W.2d 1, 5 (1969); see also Nash, 377 N.W.2d at 58 (district court must make precise findings upon adverse possession determination). "Unless there are adequate findings, this court cannot conduct a proper review." Nash, 377 N.W.2d at 58.
The camp argues that we can infer from the district court's conclusions of law that the court considered the continuous, hostile, and exclusive elements and then decided those elements in the camp's favor. Proof of adverse possession, however, must be
based on a strict construction of the evidence, without resort to any inference or presumption in favor of the disseizor, but with the indulgence of every presumption against him.
Village of Newport v. Taylor, 225 Minn. 299, 303, 30 N.W.2d 588, 591 (1948). Thus, we can neither presume that the district court considered the continuous, hostile, and exclusive elements of adverse possession nor infer that the court decided those elements in the camp's favor.
Because the district court did not make precise findings on all the elements necessary to establish adverse possession, we cannot conduct a proper review. We therefore reverse and remand to allow the district court to make the required findings. The district court also shall address Yaeger's counterclaim. On remand, the district court's findngs and decision shall be based on the facts in the record and such additional evidence as the court may allow the parties to produce. See Local Oil Co. v. City of Anoka, 303 Minn. 537, 539, 225 N.W.2d 849, 851 (1975) (when record was inadequate for review, interests of justice best served by remanding case for reconsideration upon facts in record and such additional evidence as parties may produce). Nothing in this opinion should be construed as a comment on the merits of this action or the counterclaim.
Reversed and remanded.