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Nome 2000 v. Fagerstrom

Alaska Supreme Court
799 P.2d 304 (Alaska 1990)


Facts

This case involves a dispute over land in Alaska that the court identified for purposes of the litigation as two parcels, the north end and the south end. Nome 2000 (plaintiff) is the record title holder of the entire parcel. The Fagerstroms (defendants) used the northern parcel of land seasonally—it was not suited for winter residency—for a period of several years. They used the northern parcel for various activities, including housing their camper trailer, planting trees, and building a picnic area, an outhouse, a fish rack, and a reindeer shelter. They also built a cabin on the northern parcel nine years prior to this lawsuit. The Fagerstroms only used the southern parcel during the relevant time period for recreation on preexisting trails and picking up trash. The Fagerstroms allowed others to use the entire property for activities such as picking berries and fishing, but many people in the community testified that they thought the Fagerstroms owned the property. Nome 2000 admitted that the Fagerstroms adversely possessed the northern parcel for the nine years from the time they built the cabin until the filing of this complaint, but filed suit to eject the Fagerstroms from the property. The Fagerstroms filed a counterclaim, stating that they acquired title to the property through adverse possession, which has a statutory period of ten years in Alaska. Nome 2000 filed a motion for directed verdict. The lower court denied the directed verdict for both the northern and southern parcels. Nome 2000 appeals.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

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Holding and Reasoning (Matthews, C.J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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