O’Hearne v. McClammer, Jr.Annotate this Case
James McClammer, Jr., Trustee of the Profit Sharing Plan of the Connecticut Valley Environmental Services, Inc., appealed a superior court order that ruled in favor of Michael and Marie O'Hearne on the parties' crosspetitions to quiet title and for injunctive relief. The parties owned adjoining lots in the vicinity of the Little Sugar River in North Charlestown. Historically, both lots were part of a larger parcel bisected by the river, which generally ran in an east-west direction at that point. McClammer acquired title to his lot in 1999 from the estate of Louise Hinchliffe, who had acquired her title upon the intestate deaths, in 1944 and 1957, of the grantees of a 1929 deed. The property description in McClammer’s deed was identical to the description in the 1929 deed. The dispute in this case arose when McClammer began removing trees from the strip of land lying to the north of several monuments and to the south of the river. The O'Hearnes filed a petition to enjoin McClammer from trespassing on their land, asserting that the parties' common boundary was established by the monuments. McClammer, in turn, filed his own petition to quiet title, claiming that his title ran either to the "so-called thread or center of the river," or to its low water mark on "the south side of [its] main northerly channel." McClammer later amended his petition, asserting that his title extended to the high water mark on the northern bank of the river, and included a 0.15 acre piece of land to the north of the river where, he claimed, the "mill spot" referenced in a 1790 deed was located. In their answers to McClammer’s petition and amended petition, the O'Hearnes claimed not only that they had record title to the areas in dispute, but that they had also acquired title by adverse possession and the doctrine of boundary by acquiescence. The trial court consolidated the matters, and following a trial on the merits, ruled in favor of the O'Hearnes. McClammer moved for reconsideration, arguing that the trial court had improperly raised the statute of limitations sua sponte. Additionally, he challenged the trial court's rulings on the merits, arguing that it had erroneously found that the O'Hearne chain of title referenced the monuments, that it improperly construed the relevant deeds, and that it ignored other evidence inconsistent with a finding of adverse possession. The trial court denied the motion, and McClammer timely appealed. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed: "[t]o the extent the trial court incorrectly found that the O'Hearne chain of title referenced the monuments, this finding cannot have affected the outcome of the case since the trial court's findings and rulings relative to Hinchliffe's acquiescence in the boundary are supported by the record and compel the result reached by the trial court."