Stokes, Jr. v. CottrellAnnotate this Case
The parties in this case separately petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Court of Civil Appeals' judgment overturning an award of property from the estate of Estelle Haggerty Alexander. The decedent owned 270 acres of property, and died intestate. Following a bench trial, the court divided the six parcels of land that constituted Estelle's estate, finding that the plaintiffs and their ancestors had adversely possessed three parcels by living on the land and engaging in certain activities there but that the
heirs of Larenda Jenkins, as holders of legal title, were entitled to the other three, farmed parcels. Holding that the plaintiffs' possession of the land was permissive rather than adverse, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the circuit court's judgment in part and instructed the circuit court that title to all six parcels should be quieted in the heirs of Larenda Jenkins. After careful consideration of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "[t]he Court of Civil Appeals stated the ore tenus rule in its standard-of-review section, but in its analysis of the evidence did not accord the circuit court's findings the required deference. . . . we conclude that credible evidence was presented to support the circuit court's allotment to the plaintiffs of the three parcels . . .it is a rare case when this Court will overturn a finding by a trial judge who hears an adverse possession case presented ore tenus."