JOEL CASSELL, Appellant, v. FEIBOY KARMIE, Appellee.

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, MONTSERRADO COUNTY.

Heard: June 8, 1983. Decided: July 8, 1983.

1. Where settlements have mutual boundaries, and where property in dispute is located near or on the boundary, the name of the settlement is not paramount in determining the proper ownership of the disputed property.

2. Where property subject of a dispute is located on or near a boundary between two settlements and where the grantor of both parties is the same, the paramount issue is not a matter of determining in which subdivision the property lies, but rather, the paramount issue in such a land dispute is whether the property may be properly and legally located and established by the legitimate corners, and metes and bounds of the title deed covering the property.

3. In an action of ejectment, the plaintiff shall recover upon the strength of his own title and not upon the weakness of the defendant’s title.

Appellee instituted an action of ejectment against Mrs. Isabella Hayes Cassell of the Settlement of Brewerville for the recovery of four acres of land situated in the settlement of Virginia. Defendant’s answer was dismissed and she was ruled to a bare denial of the complaint, and the case ruled to trial. Prior to trial, Isabella Hayes died and she was substituted by her son Joel Cassell, appellant herein. The lower court rendered final judgment in favor of plaintiff from which an appeal was announced to the Supreme Court. Appellant contended in his bill of exceptions that his land is situated in the Settlement of Brewerville .whilst plaintiff/appellee’ s land is situated in the Settlement of Virginia. The Supreme Court held that where the settlements have mutual boundaries and where the property in dispute is located near the boundary, the name of the settlement is not paramount in determining the proper ownership of the disputed property. What is paramount, the Supreme Court opined, is whether the property can be legally located and established by the legitimate corners, and metes and bounds.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and ordered that surveyors should assist the sheriff in serving the writ of possession, in accordance with the metes and bounds of the plaintiff’s deed.

J. D. Gordon appeared for the appellant. J. Emmanuel R. Berry appeared for the appellee.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE GBALAZEH delivered the opinion of the Court.

On the 9th day of November, A. D. 1966, Feiboy Karmie of the Settlement of Virginia, Montserrado County, instituted an action of ejectment against Mrs. Isabella Hayes-Cassell of the Settlement of Brewerville of the said County for the recovery of a four-acre plot of land situated in the said Settlement of Virginia which he claimed descended to him from his late father Momo Karmie.

In his complaint, Feiboy Karmie averred that the appellant illegally entered upon and dispossessed him of his parcel of land. Appellant filed her answer late contending that she was not on appellee’s land At the disposition of the law issues by His Honour Dessaline T. Harris, appellant’s answer having been filed late, was thus dismissed by the court and she was ruled to bare denial of the facts contained in the complaint. The case was accordingly ruled to trial on the complaint and the reply. Prior to the trial, Appellant Isabella Hayes-Cassell died and was substituted by her surviving son, Joel Cassell, as the new appellant.

During the March Term, A. D. 1982 of the Civil Law Court, the case was tried by his Honor Frederick K. Tulay which resulted into a verdict in favour of the appellee, awarding him not only the piece of real property in question but also an amount of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) as damages. Appellant filed a motion for new trial which was promptly resisted and denied by the court, and on the 8th day of June, A, D. 1982, final judgment was entered against appellant to which he excepted and appealed to this Court.

The crux of appellant’s contention in his fourteen-count bill of exceptions and also in his brief is that his land is situated and located in the Settlement of Brewerville whilst the appellee’s land is situated in the Settlement of Virginia. Consequently, appellant could not have been on appellee’s land as alleged.

This being the case, then the issue here is whether or not a parcel of land situated in Virginia should be governed by different laws for its disposition and distribution from that situated in Brewerville.

Counsel for appellant has undoubtedly argued this issue with a degree of vigor regarding the status of the parcel of land giving cause to all this strife. He seems to believe that for the fact that one parcel of land is situated in the Settlement of Brewerville and the other situated in the Settlement of Virginia, different realty laws should govern their disposition and distribution. Yet counsel for appellant argued vehemently on this premise without citing a single authority to substantiate his ardent position. We do not only differ with his line of argument but we also think his audacious contention is a classic example of what the law describes as brutumfulmen. Dollert v. PrattHewitt Oil Corp., 179 S. W. 2d 346.

We believe that where settlements have mutual boundaries, and where the property in dispute is located near or on the boundary, the name of the settlement is not paramount in determining the proper ownership of the disputed property. This conviction comes into full play when the grantees of the property in dispute have a common grantor (Republic of Liberia), and where the property may be propetly and legally located and established by the legitimate corners, and metes and bounds of the title deed covering the property. Reeves v. Hyder, [1895] LRSC 3; 1 LLR 271 (1895); Railey v. Clarke, [1950] LRSC 8; 10 LLR 330 (1950). Therefore, whether the area where the disputed property is located falls within the geographical distribution of Virginia or Brewerville, does not destroy ownership so long as evidence of title is properly and duly established as in the instant case.

It has been held that in an action of ejectment the plaintiff shall recover upon the strength of his own title and not upon the weakness of the defendant’s title. Savaja v. Dennis, [1871] LRSC 1; 1 LLR 51 (1871). In the instant case, the appellee having proved his title by documentary as well as oral evidence based upon which the jury brought the verdict as affirmed by the trial judge in his final judgment, same should not be disturbed.

In view of the foregoing, it is the opinion of this Court that the judgment of the lower court be affirmed and that surveyors should assist the sheriff of this county in serving the writ of possession in accordance with the metes and bounds of the appellee’s deed, with costs against the appellant. The Clerk of this Court is hereby ordered to send a mandate to the trial court commanding the judge therein presiding to resume jurisdiction over this cause and to give effect to the judgment of this Court.

Judgment affirmed.

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