- ITT Rayonier
ITT Rayonier, Inc. (ITT), plaintiff, instituted this action to
quiet title to property situated in Clallam County.
In addition, ITT prayed for damages for trespass and for the
ejectment of defendant Arthur Bell.
Bell answered, alleging ITT was not entitled to judgment in its
favor by reason of Bell's adverse possession of the property for
a period greater than the statutory period of 10 years.
Additionally, Bell counterclaimed against ITT praying for
judgment quieting title in Bell.
On July 8, 1986, the trial court entered partial summary
judgment, quieting title in favor of ITT.
The Court of Appeals affirmed.
In 1972, Arthur Bell purchased a
houseboat moored near the mouth of the Big River in
Swan Bay on Lake Ozette.
The property that is the subject of this action is
directly adjacent to that moorage
and was purchased by ITT in 1947.
ITT Pays Taxes
ITT, as owner of record, has paid the property taxes on the land
in question continuously since its purchase.
Did not purchase
Bell admits that he never purchased any of the property involved
in this action.
No Trespassing Signs
Additionally, he concedes that he has never maintained any "No
Trespassing" signs on the property, nor has he ever denoted any
boundary with a fence or any other markers.
A very rough approximation of the amount of land in question is
one-half of an acre.
Not Continuous, Seasonal
Bell testified that he regularly occupies his houseboat in the
spring, summer, and fall, and visits only occasionally during
the winter months
Bells Testimony - Did not act like it was his land.
He believed it was the States.
He said he would not EXCLUDE others use.
In 1962, He purchased the houseboat and it had been moored in
the same location, except for a 6 week period.
Woodshed - 1978
Abandoned Sauna - 1973
Outhouse that occupied numerous sites - 1972.
He was away from the property during the 1974-75, 1975-76, and
1976-77 school years, while he was teaching school in Nanana,
During the first and third winters, he allowed friends to use
the houseboat occasionally.
During the 1975-76 school term, he rented the houseboat for $ 30
Bell returned to Lake Ozette each of the three summers,
personally occupying his houseboat during those months.
Two families, the Klocks and the Olesens, have co-owned a
houseboat for approximately 20 years that floats adjacent to
both Bell's houseboat and the disputed property.
Used the property in question for digging whole.
Used it permissively over the last twenty years.
Arthur Bell has never attempted to exclude us from using the
property nor has he attempted to claim the property as his own.
Swore to an identical statement.
Gerald Schaefer (ITT) Testimony
An employee of ITT, stated in his sworn affidavit that ITT owns
383,000 acres in eight counties in Washington state.
Often ITT is absent from its land for long periods of time.
After property has been logged and planted, it does not visit
the land for 15 years.
Adverse Possession Requirements, possession must be:
open and notorious,
actual and uninterrupted,
Possession of the property with each of the necessary concurrent
elements must exist for the statutorily prescribed period of 10
Rule - Presumption of Possession
Goes to the holder of legal title
Rule - Burden of proof
The party claiming to have adversely possessed the property has
the burden of establishing the existence of each element.
Court of Appeals
Used the alternative grounds of a good faith requirement in
affirmed the trial courts summary judgment.
Another element of adverse possession is that the party seeking
to acquire title to land by adverse possession
must possess the land under a
good faith claim of right.
At No time prior to the time he claims his possession of the
property ripened into title.
At no time did he believe that he had title to this property or
any claim of right to it.
Court of Appeals - Bell did not raise genuine issue
Holding in this case, as a matter of law, that Bell did not
raise a genuine issue of fact on the question of his good faith
claim of right to the property is, in our judgment, consistent
Chaplin v. Sanders
- Subjective belief is irrelevant
Held that the adverse possessor's "subjective belief whether the
land possessed is or is not his own and his intent to dispossess
or not dispossess another are irrelevant to a finding of
Court of Appeals - Does not encourage squatting.
"to conclude [that good faith WAS NOT an element of adverse
possession] . . . we would be encouraging . . . 'squatting.'"
Courts Opinion on Chaplin v. Sanders
Hostility/claim of right element of adverse possession
Requires ONLY that the claimant
treat the land as his own as
against the world throughout the statutory period.
The nature of his possession will be determined solely on the
basis of the manner in which he treats the property.
His subjective belief
regarding his true interest in the land and his intent to
dispossess or not dispossess another
is irrelevant to this
Permission to occupy the land, given by the true title owner to
the claimant or his predecessors in interest, will still operate
to NEGATE the element of hostility.
The traditional presumptions still apply to the extent that they
are not inconsistent with this ruling.
Good faith no longer constitutes an element of adverse
We affirm the Court of
Appeals on the basis of Bell's failure to establish exclusive
possession, and reverse
the Court of Appeals alternative holding that Bell failed to
establish a good faith claim to the property.