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Summit Veterinary Services, LLC v. Tindle

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

SUMMIT VETERINARY SERVICES, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant/Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
MARLYN J. TINDLE AND TONI M. TINDLE, Defendants-Appellees/Counterclaim Plaintiffs.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Madison County, Patrick W. Greenwood, Judge.

         Summit Veterinary Services appeals the order quieting title in certain real property to Dr. Marlyn Tindle and Toni Tindle. AFFIRMED.

          Matthew J. Hemphill of Bergkamp, Hemphill & McClure, P.C., Adel, for appellant.

          Joseph F. Wallace and Abigail L. Thiel of Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fischer & Bouslog, P.C., Des Moines, for appellees.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Summit Veterinary Services, LLC, (Summit Veterinary)[1] appeals the order quieting title in certain real property to Dr. Marlyn Tindle and Toni Tindle. The sole question before us is whether the Tindles proved their claim of adverse possession. Because the Tindles have proved they adversely possessed the land in question for a period of more than ten years, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In 1977, the Tindles purchased a home on West Summit Street in Winterset, and Dr. Tindle operates his chiropractic clinic on the same property. The property is bordered on the north by West Summit Street (also known as Old Highway 92) and on the west by U.S. Highway 169. Abutting the Tindles' property on the east is a parcel of land upon which a veterinary clinic was built in 1979. Summit Veterinary purchased the veterinary clinic in 2015.

         Access to both the veterinary clinic and the Tindles' property is by a gravel driveway from West Summit Street. An asphalt driveway runs from the Tindle home to the east, paralleling West Summit Street, transitions to gravel at its east end, and then turns north to intersect with West Summit Street. This is the Tindles only means of accessing their property. The Tindles' driveway was gravel when they purchased the property and over the years Dr. Tindle had it paved. In 1979, the veterinary clinic's first owner constructed a fence south of and parallel to where the asphalt driveway now runs. Dr. Tindle assisted in the construction of the fence and has maintained it over the years.

          The Tindles constructed two carports on the north side of the driveway. They built the westernmost carport in 2000 to house Dr. Tindle's truck and snowplow. In 2006, they began construction on a second carport to the east for use in a used-car business they began operating in 2002. Since 2002, the Tindles have displayed the used cars for sale by parking them along the north side of the asphalt driveway.

         Summit Veterinary initiated the present action after a review of a property survey revealed that it owned the land north of the fence, on which the asphalt driveway and carports are located. Summit Veterinary filed a petition seeking to quiet title to the real estate in its favor. The Tindles counterclaimed, alleging they acquired title to the property by adverse possession. The district court found the Tindles proved their adverse-possession claim and quieted title to the disputed property to the Tindles.[2] Summit Veterinary appeals.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review.

         Because "[a]dverse possession is established by a quiet title action, an equitable proceeding, " our review is de novo. See Sille v. Shaffer, 297 N.W.2d 379, 380 (Iowa 1980). Although the trial court's findings are not binding on us, we give them deference because we recognize the trial court had the opportunity to observe the witnesses ...


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