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Charles Tolmas, Inc. v. Lee

903 So. 2d 661 (2005)

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Charles Tolmas, Inc. v. Lee

Louisiana Court of Appeal

903 So. 2d 661 (2005)

Facts

The Lee family and the Tolmas family owned adjoining lots on Metairie Road in New Orleans. In 1951, Calvin Lee (defendant) built a building very close to the boundary with the Tolmas property. Lee operated a dry-cleaning business in the building, and eventually part of the building was also rented to tenants. There was a concrete and shelled area next to Lee’s building that was used as a parking area. The Tolmas property was vacant. In 1998, approximately 47 years after Lee’s building was built, Charles Tolmas (plaintiff) filed a declaratory action seeking to assert that Lee had no ownership interest in a disputed triangle-shaped portion of land, which included the parking area. This disputed area was titled in Tolmas’s name. Relatives, friends, and neighbors of the Lees all testified that since the building was built the Lees’ customers parked on the parking area, that the Lees had a sign for their business there, that the Lees kept the grass cut in the area, and that the Lees often roped off the area for friends and family to use during parades. Tolmas testified that he had noticed parking was occurring on his family’s land but had not objected in an effort to be neighborly. Tolmas claimed that surveys from 1985 and 1988 showed that the parking area had been expanded during that time but admitted that the parking area shown in the 1985 survey had existed since at least 1968. The trial court found that the Lees had acquired ownership of the entire disputed triangle parcel through acquisitive prescription. Tolmas appealed, asserting that the Lees had not sufficiently established possession of the disputed property, because they had not enclosed it in a permanent way.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Daley, J.)

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