James A. Compart, et al., Appellants,
Justin J. Wolfstellar, et al., Respondents, Bank of West, Defendant.
County District Court File No. 71-CV-16-513
Matthew C. Berger, Dean M. Zimmerli, Gislason & Hunter,
LLP, New Ulm, Minnesota (for appellants).
Jeffrey A. Scott, Brian W.Varland, Heley, Duncan &
Melander, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondents).
Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Hooten,
Judge; and Smith, T., Judge.
adverse claimant's acceptance of a conveyance of real
property from the record title holder, before the statutory
period has run, only interrupts his adverse possession if the
adverse claimant acknowledges the grantor's superior
title in the conveyed interest.
purchaser who obtains title at a mortgage foreclosure sale
takes title subject to a prior adverse possession unless,
within the applicable statutory period, either the adverse
claimant abandons its possession or one with a superior right
to possess the real property ejects the adverse claimant.
contend that the district court erred by granting summary
judgment in favor of respondents on appellants' adverse
possession claim and on respondents' quiet title
counterclaim. Appellants argue that their possession of the
disputed real property was hostile for the required 15 years,
and that their interest is superior to respondents'
interest. We reverse and remand.
case focuses on real property in Sherburne County, Minnesota,
which is divided into four parcels: A, B, C, and D.
A and B are each square-shaped and approximately 5 acres,
with Parcel A immediately north of Parcel B. Parcel C is
approximately 12 acres and is immediately east of Parcels A
and B, with the same northern boundary as Parcel A and the
same southern boundary as Parcel B. Parcel D is the disputed
parcel. It is an approximately 3-acre L-shaped parcel running
along the western boundary of Parcels A and B and along the
southern boundary of Parcels B and C. Parcels A and B are
separate tax parcels, but Parcels C and D together form one
James Compart and Diana Compart own Parcels A and B, and
respondents Justin Wolfsteller and Janeen Wolfsteller own Parcel
Both the Comparts and the Wolfstellers claim an ownership
interest in Parcel D.
purpose of this summary judgment appeal, the following facts
are not disputed. In 1992, Philip and Donna Larson acquired
an interest in Parcels A, B, C, and D by entering into a
contract for deed for the purchase of the parcels with
Berlinson Associates, the title owners of the parcels. Five
years later, the Comparts entered into a purchase agreement
to buy "13.03acres" from the Larsons for $71,
775. On September 15, 1997, the Larsons delivered a quitclaim
deed, and Berlinson Associates delivered a warranty deed, to
James Compart for Parcels A and B, which included the grant
of "an easement for ingress and egress and utility
purposes" over Parcel D. The Comparts argue the deeds
were in error because their purchase from the Larsons also
included Parcel D and the deeds should have conveyed title to
the Comparts for Parcel D, with an easement granted in favor
of the Larsons. Before September 15, 1997, the Comparts
leased Parcels A, B, and D for farming purposes, and they
farmed these parcels since the 1997 purchase.
Larsons fully paid their contract for deed for Parcels C and
D, and Berlinson Associates conveyed a warranty deed to the
Larsons for those parcels on August 16, 2000. In 2008, the
Larsons granted a mortgage encumbering Parcels C and D. Then,
on March 5, 2012, the Comparts granted the Larsons an
easement over Parcels B and D in a Road Agreement and
Easement. The agreement, signed by the Comparts and
the Larsons, recognized the Comparts as owners of Parcel D,
and the Larsons as owners of only Parcel C. Nine days later,
on March 14, the Larsons conveyed Parcel D by quitclaim deed
to the Comparts. The deed states it was "given to
correct an error in the legal description set forth in"
the August 16, 2000 warranty deed.
Wolfstellers claim ownership of Parcels C and D through a
chain of title going back to the Larsons' 2008 mortgage.
In 2012, that mortgage was foreclosed, Parcels C and D were
sold at a sheriff's sale, and, after a conveyance between
financial institutions, the Wolfstellers purchased Parcels C
and D from Wells Fargo.
Comparts brought this lawsuit in 2016, alleging adverse
possession of Parcel D and two boundary-line claims. In their
answer, the Wolfstellers filed a quiet title counterclaim.
The Wolfstellers moved for summary judgment on all claims,
and the district court granted the motion in favor of the
Wolfstellers on all three of the Comparts' claims, but
set the Wolfstellers' quiet title counterclaim for trial.
Both parties filed motions for reconsideration. The district
court denied the Comparts' reconsideration motion,
granted the Wolfstellers' reconsideration motion,
declared that the Comparts "have no right, title, or
interest in Parcel D, " and granted summary judgment to
the Wolfstellers on their quiet title counterclaim. The
Comparts appeal the summary judgment decisions on their
adverse possession claim and the Wolfstellers' quiet
Did the district court err in determining that the
Comparts' possession of Parcel D was not hostile for the
15-year statutory period and, on that basis, granting summary
judgment to the Wolfstellers on the Comparts' adverse
Did the district court err in granting summary judgment to
the Wolfstellers on their quiet title counterclaim?
Comparts contend that the district court erred in granting
summary judgment to the Wolfstellers because their possession
of Parcel D was hostile for the required 15-year period.
"On appeal from summary judgment, [appellate courts
review] de novo whether there are any genuine issues of
material fact and whether the district court erred in its
application of the law to the facts." Harmon v.
Comm'r of Revenue, 894 N.W.2d 155, 159 (Minn. 2017)
(quotation omitted). In doing so, appellate courts "view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against
whom summary judgment was granted, " Lubbers v.
Anderson, 539 N.W.2d 398, 401 (Minn. 1995), and resolve
all doubts and factual inferences against the moving party,
Rochester City Lines, Co. v. City of Rochester, 868