MARK G. CASWELL, Petitioner-Appellant,
RONALD PAQUIN and KAREN PAQUIN, WESLEY BECTHOLD and JUDITH K. BECTHOLD, MARK MOINE and AMY J. MOINE, Respondent-Appellees.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, Todd A. Geer, Judge.
A landowner appeals the district court's denial of his petition to show ownership of property by acquiescence or adverse possession.
Paul W. Demro of Correll, Sheerer, Benson, Engels, Galles & Demro, P.L.C., Cedar Falls, for appellant.
Heather M. Simplot of Harrison, Moreland, Webber & Simplot, P.C., Ottumwa, for appellees Paquin.
Laura L. Folkerts of Dutton, Braun, Staack & Hellman, P.L.C., Waterloo, for appellees Bectholds and Moines.
Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.
Mark Caswell claims a wire fence on his neighbor's property has served as an actual boundary rather than just a barrier for livestock. He appeals a ruling by the district court denying his claim to property through acquiescence or adverse possession. Because Caswell does not meet the standards necessary to prove ownership under either doctrine, we affirm.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
Mark Caswell's family has owned land in Chickasaw County since 1965. The legal description for Caswell's property is set forth in a warranty deed. Caswell's farm was bordered on the north by the Nashua Golf and Country Club and on the west by Ruby Ferguson's property. Wesley Becthold, Judy Becthold, Mark Moine, and Amy Moine purchased land from Ruby Ferguson in 1998. The Bechtolds and the Moines formed Fairway Additions L.L.C. for the purpose of subdividing and developing the land into a residential subdivision. Ronald and Karen Paquin purchased one of the subdivided parcels by warranty deed on March 19, 2009. The parcel purchased by the Paquins is adjacent to Caswell's farm.
A wire fence is located on the "easterly side" of the Paquins' property. Caswell testified Ruby Ferguson asked him to rebuild the fence in the late 1970s when he "wound up with some calves out in the country club." Licensed surveyor Lyle TeKippe testified the fence was located for "convenience sake" at the edge of the tree line rather than running right on the section line. According to three surveys conducted by TeKippe—in 1999, 2001, and 2008—the fence stands four to five feet to the west of the section line at the northern end of the Pacquins' property and sixteen to seventeen feet west of the section line at the southeast corner.
On October 21, 2010, Caswell filed a petition naming the Pacquins, the Bechtolds, and the Moines as defendants. In the petition, Caswell alleged the Pacquins "intentionally killed trees planted by Caswell on the existing fence line." Caswell asked the district court to quiet title in the land up to the fence under the theories of acquiescence or adverse possession. The district court held a hearing regarding the property dispute on May 3, 2012. In an order issued December 28, 2012, the court ruled Caswell did not meet the standards for showing possession of the property by acquiescence or adverse possession. Caswell now appeals.
II. Scope and Standard of Review
An action under Iowa Code chapter 650 to establish a boundary is considered on appeal as an ordinary action. Iowa Code §§ 650.4, 650.15 (2011); Egli v. Troy, 602 N.W.2d 329, 332 (Iowa 1999). "We apply the clear evidence standard in reviewing this case." Egli, 602 N.W.2d at 332. The district court's judgment has the effect of a jury verdict, and we limit our inquiry to whether its findings ...