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Firetower, L.L.C. v. Gruener

A-1682-03T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

QUIET TITLE—Under N.J.S.A. 2A:62-1, a person is deemed to be in peaceable possession of a property if the person or its grantors have paid taxes on the property for a consecutive five year period.

A company purchased two tracts of land. The first tract of land was conveyed to the company by a deed that contained an inadequate description of the land. The description in the deed was taken from a prior deed in which the description was incomplete. The second tract of land was acquired by the company pursuant to a deed which contained an incomplete description of the land. The description was obtained from a prior deed in which two of the courses in the description had been omitted and modified. Shortly thereafter, a man was conveyed the two properties by quitclaim deeds. A dispute then followed as to the ownership of the properties. The company filed a quiet title action, requesting that the court deem it to be the owner of the two properties. The company submitted detailed expert reports which supported its position. In response, the man asserted that the company lacked standing to file a quiet title action because it was not entitled to the statutory presumption of peaceable possession under N.J.S.A. 2A:62-1. A person is deemed to be in peaceable possession of a property pursuant to this statute if the person or its grantors have been assessed and paid taxes on the property for a consecutive five year period. The man asserted that neither the company nor its grantors had paid taxes on the property and therefore lacked standing to assert a quiet title action. In response, the company contended that it had been assessed and paid taxes on the property for the statutory period and submitted supporting certifications from its managing members. The company moved for summary judgment, which was granted by the lower court. The lower court found that the company had been in peaceable possession of the property. The man appealed the lower court’s ruling. On appeal, the man asserted that the lower court erred in granting summary judgment because it was contrary to the evidence.

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling. It noted that the lower court properly granted summary judgment because the man failed to demonstrate by competent evidence that a genuine issue of fact existed. In addition to the payment of taxes, the parties disputed the boundaries of the property. The company asserted that the boundaries were as reflected in expert reports submitted by licensed professional land surveyors. In contrast, the man asserted that the boundaries were as provided in a report that he personally prepared. Because the man was not a licensed professional land surveyor, engineer, title agent or title producer, the Court found that the report he submitted was not persuasive enough to raise a genuine issue of fact with respect to the property. Accordingly, the Court found that no genuine issue of material fact existed and that summary judgment was properly granted for the company.


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