Meiers v. Wang

In Meiers v. Wang, 192 Wis. 2d 115, 531 N.W.2d 54, 60 (Wisc. 1995), the Wisconsin Supreme Court held public policy did not bar a private citizen's claim for adverse possession of a railroad right of way which had been acquired by the railroad from a private landowner. The court concluded the nature of a railroad right of way acquired by private sale was different from a thoroughfare dedicated as a public road by the state, and an action against a railroad who acquired a right of way by private sale did not implicate the state, or its interest in acquiring the land for a public purpose. Id. The court concluded the railroad, as a private landowner, had an obligation to monitor its right of way for trespassers, squatters, and encroachers, and faced the same risks of adverse possession as all other private landowners. Id. Significantly, the Wisconsin Supreme Court did not rely on, or cite a constitutional provision similar to N.D. Const. art. XII, 13, and the court effectively concluded a railroad right of way acquired by private sale was not a public highway.