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Mahoney v. Tara, LLC

Supreme Court of Vermont

August 14, 2014

J. Daniel Mahoney, Edward J. Mahoney, Patrick J. Mahoney, et al.
v.
Tara, LLC

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Civil Division. Geoffrey W. Crawford, J.

Liam L. Murphy and Damien J. Leonard of Murphy Sullivan Kronk, Burlington, for Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees.

Christina A. Jensen of Lisman Leckerling, P.C., Burlington, for Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund and Robinson, JJ., and Teachout and Eaton, Supr. JJ., Specially Assigned.

OPINION

Page 888

Reiber, C.J.

[¶1]  This case, in which plaintiffs claim ownership of a parcel of beach and a narrow strip of land adjacent to their neighbor's property, is before us for the second time. We affirm the trial court, although our reasoning differs in certain respects.

[¶2] We previously summarized the facts as follows:

Plaintiffs' family began renting a property on the lake (the Mahoney Lot) in 1949 and eventually purchased it in 1976. Throughout their lease and ownership of the Mahoney Lot, and by the terms of their deed, plaintiffs enjoyed the use of approximately seventy-five feet of lake frontage. The adjacent lot to the northeast (the Tara Lot) was owned by Vermont Catholic Charities, Inc. (VCC) from 1958 until 2006 when it was sold to defendant. During VCC's ownership of the Tara Lot, VCC recognized the disputed boundary line where plaintiffs believed it to be and marked it with signs. In 2007, defendant filed an

Page 889

application to subdivide the Tara Lot and included in the application a survey showing its southerly boundary line cutting plaintiffs' beach in half (the Disputed Portion).

Mahoney v. Tara, LLC, 2011 VT 3, ¶ 2, 189 Vt. 557, 15 A.3d 122 (mem.). In response to defendant's development application, plaintiffs filed a complaint to quiet title in December 2007. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss in January 2008, which the trial court granted, but did not file an answer or counterclaim, nor did it assert affirmative defenses. This Court reversed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claim that they had acquired the land by adverse possession. We held that 12 V.S.A. § 462's exemption for public, charitable and pious uses, " [b]y its plain terms," focuses " not on lands held by a public pious or charitable user ... but rather on 'lands given, granted, sequestered or appropriated to a public, pious or charitable use.' " Id. ¶ 10 (quoting § 462). We therefore remanded to the trial court for further ...


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