MOORE et al.
MCFADDEN, C. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
Dowdy Moore and Lounell Dorminey appeal from the denial of
their motion for a new trial after a jury returned a verdict
in favor of William Edmund Jackson in regard to his petition
to quiet title to certain property. On appeal, Moore and
Dorminey first argue that the jury's verdict was contrary
to law and was contrary to, and strongly against, the
evidence presented at trial. Second, Moore and Dorminey argue
that the trial court erred by granting Jackson's motion
in limine to exclude evidence of acts and declarations of a
common grantor of the property in question. Moore and
Dorminey argue that this error prevented them from making an
effective opening statement to the jury because, although the
trial court reversed its decision and permitted such evidence
to be admitted at trial, they could not refer to it in their
opening statement. Third, Moore and Dorminey argue that the
trial court should have realigned the parties, as they
contend that the only issue before the jury was whether Moore
and Dorminey could establish adverse possession of the
property in question. Because these enumerations of error are
meritless, we affirm the jury's verdict and the denial of
Moore and Dorminey's motion for a new trial.
a jury verdict, "[t]his Court must view all of the
evidence and every presumption arising therefrom most
favorably toward upholding the jury's verdict."
Davis v. Johnson, 280 Ga.App. 318, 321 (1) (634
S.E.2d 108) (2006) (citation omitted). So viewed, Jackson
filed a petition to quiet title in the Dooly County Superior
Court in regard to a particular piece of property. He claimed
to own all of a certain portion of Land Lot 32 in Dooly
County that extended south to the Crisp County line.
presented at trial showed that Land Lot 32 sits at the far
south end of Dooly County, with its southern edge terminating
at the Crisp County line (which runs east-to-west). That
portion of Land Lot 32 also abuts the confluence of several
roads to the east. The southeast corner of Land Lot 32 sits
at the center of the intersection of Cown Road and Sharon
Church Road at the Dooly-Crisp county line. To the north of
that intersection (and thus to the north of the Dooly-Crisp
county Line) the center line of County Line Road runs
petition, Jackson claimed that he held title to property in
Land Lot 32 that extends to the Dooly-Crisp county line,
under a 1993 grant from his father. Moore responded to the
petition and asserted a claim of adverse possession, claiming
that she and predecessors had resided upon and adversely
possessed the property between the center line of County Line
Road and the actual Dooly-Crisp county line for over fifty
years. Dorminey also answered the petition, making similar
evidence presented at trial showed that, prior to 1956, a man
named Joseph Brown owned a large tract of property that
extended across both sides the Dooly-Crisp county line. In
1956, Lounell Dorminey and her husband bought 100 acres of
this property from Joseph Brown. They understood their 100
acres to lie south of the Dooly-Crisp county line and to sit
entirely within Crisp County. According to testimony
presented at trial, as part of their negotiations with Brown,
Brown walked the line between what he was selling and what he
was retaining, beginning in the center of County Line Road
and walking due west to a shed on his farm where a pecan tree
grew. The testimony indicated that this was understood to be
the county line and that the land south of the line was being
sold to the Dormineys. The actual line between Dooly and
Crisp counties was actually approximately 60 feet to the
south of where Brown walked that day.
the sale, the Dormineys took possession of the property south
of the line walked by Brown. They later cleaned and cleared
the land. They only paid property taxes to Crisp County and
never paid any taxes to Dooly County.
1956, Joseph Brown sold his land north of the actual
Dooly-Crisp county line to Billy Jackson, the father of
William Edmund Jackson (the appellee). Billy Jackson farmed
on the land he received until his death in 1991. The property
was devised to William Edmund Jackson pursuant to Billy
Dormineys sold one-half acre of their property in 1965 to
W.D. Dowdy, the father of Lounell Dorminey and Ruth Moore.
Dowdy built a house on it and then had the property surveyed.
According to the 1965 survey, the northern corner of the
house was only 5.7 feet south of the property line. Mr. Dowdy
never questioned the accuracy of this survey, and he filed it
in Crisp County in 1965. He later built a well house on the
property that sat approximately two feet south of the
Dooly-Crisp county line. Mr. Dowdy cut the grass around his
house and planted pear trees all in an area that extended
northward across the actual Dooly-Crisp county line.
Testimony from William Edmund Jackson and Lounell Dorminey
established that he did this with the permission of Billy
Dowdy died in 1991, Ruth Moore bought the property, including
the home. She indicated that, at the time she purchased the
land, she understood that her property was entirely within
Crisp County. She only paid Crisp County property taxes and
never paid Dooly County taxes. Moore mowed and maintained
this same area of the yard that her father had mowed and
maintained when he owned the property.
1995, after Moore moved into the house, she decided to make
an addition to it. William Jackson objected, noting that her
planned addition would place her too close to the northern
line of her property. That addition was never made. However,
in 2010, she began building a car port adjacent to the house.
Jackson objected at that time, asking Moore "y'all
are determined to build into Dooly County aren't
you?" Despite Jackson's objections, Moore completed
the concrete slab for the carport in 2012. Its edge extended
northward, across the actual Dooly-Crisp county line, by 6.89
feet. This was the only permanent structure built in the
portion of the yard that extended into Dooly County.
of the property were conducted in 1965, 1988, 2010, and 2012
by various individuals. Each of those surveys showed that the
boundary between the properties owned by Jackson and the
Dormineys (and later Dowdy and Moore) was the actual boundary
line between Dooly and Crisp counties, not the line 60 feet
to the north pointed out by Joseph Brown to the Dormineys in
1956. At trial, however, several witnesses who reside in the
area testified that the general reputation in the community
was that the boundary between Dooly and Crisp counties was in
the center of County Line Road.
deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of
Jackson, determining that the boundary between Jackson's
land and the land owned by Dorminey and Moore is the actual
Dooly-Crisp county line, not the line walked by Joseph Brown
in 1956. Following this verdict, Moore and Dorminey moved for
a new trial, raising the same ...