Uhl v. Krupsky
Case #: A150512
Brewer, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A150512.pdf
Property Law: The statutory requirement under ORS 105.620 requiring an "honest belief of actual ownership" for claims of adverse possession does not apply to parties extinguishing an easement across their land through adverse possession.
The Krupskys, owners of a landlocked parcel of real property with an appurtenant easement for a driveway, appealed the lower court’s judgment that part of their easement is extinguished by adverse possession. After buying the property burdened by the easement in 1995, the Uhls landscaped and placed an iron gate over some of the land burdened by the Krupskys’ easement. Under common law, adverse possession is used to acquire fee-simple title to land that a person has demonstrated actual, open, obvious, exclusive, hostile and continuous possession over. ORS 105.620 codifies the common law definition, but also adds that the party seeking fee-simple title to land through adverse possession must have an “honest belief of actual ownership.” The issue is whether ORS 105.620′s requirement of an “honest belief” in adverse possession cases applies to adverse possession claims involving the extinguishment of easements. By looking at the statutory language, the Court of Appeals reasoned that the “honest belief” requirement cannot apply to extinguishing easements because the language states that adverse possession is used by parties wanting to acquire fee-simple title to the land by satisfying the elements and through holding the “honest belief” of their actual ownership. The Court determined that the Uhls already had “actual” fee-simple ownership of the land in question and the “honest belief” requirement does not apply to extinguishing an easement through adverse possession. Affirmed.