Otto v. Cornell

In Otto v. Cornell, 119 Wis. 2d 4, 349 N.W.2d 703 (Wis. App. 1984), parties were next door neighbors. For many years, Otto "maintained a fence on what he believed was the southern boundary of his lot and the northern boundary" of the Cornells' property. Id. at 705. He later removed the fence and replaced it with "four maple trees to mark the boundary," and thereafter maintained his property up to the trees for well over twenty years. Id. Thereafter, the Cornells discovered that the property line lay "between .7 feet and 7.2 feet north of the line on which Otto had planted the trees." Id. The Wisconsin appellate court upheld the trial court's finding that Otto had acquired the disputed area by adverse possession, despite the Cornells' alleged reentries on the land. Id. at 706. The Wisconsin court said, id. : The Cornells made no notorious reentry to dispossess Otto until after his adverse possession had been established. . . . The trial court may . . . have considered the Cornells' alleged activities, such as raking leaves and their children playing on the disputed strip, to be casual reentries. It was not necessary for Otto to treat the disputed property more protectively than he treated his own lot to satisfy the requirement of exclusivity. He was not required to be belligerent if his neighbors happened to step across a particular line.