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Rodamaker v. Biermann

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 22, 2017

STANLEY D. RODAMAKER, Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant-Appellee,
v.
ELAINE K. BIERMANN, f/k/a ELAINE K. WESTEMEIER and KURT BIERMANN, Defendants/Counterclaim Plaintiffs-Appellants.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clayton County, David P. Odekirk, Judge.

         Appellants appeal the district court decision finding plaintiff had established title to certain property through adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. AFFIRMED.

          Hillary J. Friedmann of Friedmann Law Office, Guttenberg, for appellants.

          Christopher C. Fry of O'Connor & Thomas, P.C., Dubuque, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Elaine and Kurt Biermann appeal the district court decision finding Stanley Rodamaker had established title to certain property through adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. We find the district court properly determined Rodamaker had established a right to the property in question under a theory of adverse possession. We affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Rodamaker and the Biermanns own adjacent property in rural Clayton County, with the Biermanns' property to the north of Rodamaker's property. Rodamaker lives in a house on his property, while the Biermanns' property is unimproved. On February 5, 2013, Rodamaker filed a petition alleging he had acquired title to a disputed area between the two properties under theories of adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. The Biermanns denied Rodamaker's claims and raised counterclaims asking to be confirmed as the owner of the property in dispute and seeking damages against Rodamaker for trespass.

         At the trial, Rodamaker presented evidence to show a fence had been treated as the boundary between the properties for more than thirty years, although the fence did not represent the actual property line. The actual property line was about one and one-half feet north of Rodamaker's house. Rodamaker maintained an area about twenty-feet wide north of the house, which was between his house and the fence, by mowing, keeping back trees, spraying for weeds, and planting flowers.

         David Boardman testified he previously owned the Rodamaker property. He stated he was told the fence was the boundary line when he purchased the property. David stated Elaine Biermann approached him about using part of the disputed area as a driveway to her property but he denied her request. Denise Boardman purchased the property from David Boardman and built the house. Denise obtained a variance from the Clayton County Planning and Zoning Commission to build the house closer to the west property line but stated she believed there was twenty feet between the house and the north property line so she did not think she needed a variance on the north side. Denise also stated Elaine asked her about putting a driveway over the disputed area and Denise rejected the proposal.

         Elaine Biermann testified when she purchased the property forty years earlier she was informed the fence was not the property line and the fence was present to keep the former owner's sheep penned in. Elaine stated she was aware Rodamaker was maintaining the disputed area north of his house. Jerry Handke testified his father, who had previously owned the Biermanns' property, put in a fence for sheep, but Handke was unaware of the exact location of the fence.

         The district court determined Rodamaker had established title to the disputed area under theories of adverse possession and boundary by acquiescence. The court denied the Biermanns' counterclaims. The Biermanns now appeal the decision of the district court.

         II. ...


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