OF JUDGMENT: 12/14/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. FRANKLIN C. MCKENZIE JR. JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: LEE TURNER ROBERT KASEY WELLS.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: TERRY L. CAVES RISHER GRANTHAM
IRVING, P.J., GREENLEE AND TINDELL, JJ.
In March 2015, Patrick and Scott Revette filed a complaint
against Robert and Lillian Ferguson in the Wayne County
Chancery Court. In their complaint, the Revettes sought to
confirm title to a 1.14-acre parcel of real property. The
Fergusons responded with an answer and a counterclaim,
alleging that they had acquired title to the property by
adverse possession. During trial on February 24, 2016, the
Revettes and Fergusons stipulated to Exhibit 7, which
included a surveyed legal description of the Fergusons'
record title property and showed the disputed 1.14 acres
shaded in orange. The chancellor ultimately found that the
Fergusons adversely possessed the disputed property. Prior to
entering his final judgment, the chancellor ordered the
Fergusons to obtain a survey of the disputed property. The
Fergusons did so, and the chancellor attached the survey to
his final judgment, marking it "Exhibit A." The
Revettes appeal, arguing the chancellor erred in his
adverse-possession finding and in using the Fergusons'
survey. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.
This suit concerns ownership of a roughly 1.14-acre parcel of
land in rural Wayne County. It is located along the top base
of an old river channel of the Chickasawhay River, bounded on
the northwest by thirty acres owned by the Fergusons and on
the southeast by fifty acres owned by the
Revettes. A natural bluff, twelve to fifteen feet
high, separates the 1.14-acre parcel from the remainder of
the Revettes' property.
The Fergusons purchased their property in 1987-and although
their record title did not encompass the disputed parcel, the
Fergusons believed they owned it. In fact, the disputed
parcel belonged to the Revettes' predecessors in
interest, Hallie Jo and Wanda Hutto. In 1998, the Huttos sold
their land, including the disputed parcel, to Jennifer
Rabourn Stanley. In 2006, the Revettes bought their fifty
acres from Stanley.
After the Fergusons acquired their property in 1987, they,
their family members, and guests began using the disputed
parcel for hunting, fishing, camping, and riding horses. In
1989, they began pasturing cattle on it. As the disputed land
can be considered a wetland or swamp, activity on the land
was dependent on the water level and the time of year. In the
fall and winter, when the water level was typically up, the
Fergusons used the disputed parcel for hunting and fishing.
During the spring and summer, when the land was drier, the
Fergusons let their cattle graze to the bluff, which served
to contain them. From 1987 to 1993, the Fergusons leased the
disputed property to a hunting club. The club's members
fished and hunted deer, duck, and rabbit on the disputed
parcel. They also put up "no trespassing" signs and
In 2012, the Revettes bulldozed and destroyed part of the
bluff that served as the natural barrier between the Ferguson
and Revette properties. When one of the Fergusons' bulls
escaped, the Fergusons put up a fence to contain their
cattle. The Revettes tore the fence down, three
more cows got out, and the Fergusons repaired the fence. The
Revettes tore the fence down a second time, and the Fergusons
repaired it again.
On March 17, 2015, the Revettes filed suit against the
Fergusons in the Wayne County Chancery Court, seeking
confirmation of title and boundary lines, alleging trespass,
and seeking a declaratory judgment. On April 9, 2015, the
Fergusons filed their answer and counterclaim against the
Revettes for confirmation of title and confirmation of
boundary lines, adverse possession, declaratory judgment,
trespass, and preliminary injunction.
On February 24, 2016, a trial was held on the merits. During
trial, the Fergusons introduced a surveyed legal description
encompassing (1) the Fergusons' record title property and
(2) the 1.14-acre parcel in dispute, colored in orange. The
parties stipulated that the surveyed legal description be
entered into evidence as Exhibit 7, and that the disputed
1.14 acres was colored in orange. On June 15, 2016, the
chancellor entered his findings of fact and conclusions of
law, granting the Fergusons' claim for adverse possession
of the 1.14-acre parcel and denying all other claims for
relief. The chancellor directed the Fergusons to procure a
survey of the disputed property so a legal description could
be included in the final judgment. The Fergusons subsequently
engaged Saul Surveying and Mapping LLC (Saul) to prepare a
plat of the legal description. Concerned that the
Fergusons' survey was inconsistent with the
chancellor's findings, the Revettes engaged Walker
Mapping and Planning (Walker) to survey their property. On
November 30, 2016, the Fergusons filed a motion for the entry
of a final judgment, which included the Saul survey. On
December 13, the Revettes filed their response and the Walker
survey, arguing the Saul survey included an additional .08
acres of the river channel and was not in accordance with the
chancellor's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
On December 14, 2016, the chancellor entered his final
judgment. The Revettes have timely appealed, arguing the
chancellor erred in: (1) finding that the Fergusons adversely
possessed the disputed property; (2) utilizing and
considering the Fergusons' survey without its admission
into evidence; (3) alternatively failing to address the
discrepancies between the competing surveys; and (4) using
the portion of the Fergusons' survey that showed the
Fergusons adversely possessed .08 acres of the Chickasawhay
River. We affirm the chancellor's finding that the
Fergusons adversely possessed the disputed parcel but reverse
and remand so that the Revettes may have an opportunity to
challenge the Fergusons' survey and may cross-examine the
surveyor. Concerning the Fergusons' cross-appeal from the
chancellor's judgment denying them recovery on trespass,
compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees,
we affirm the chancery court.
This Court employs a limited standard of review when
examining and considering the decisions of a chancellor.
Cook v. Robinson, 924 So.2d 592, 594 (¶9)
(Miss. Ct. App. 2006). "When reviewing a
chancellor's decision, we will accept a chancellor's
findings of fact as long as the evidence in the record
reasonably supports those findings." Id. In
other words, we will not disturb a chancellor's findings
unless they are clearly erroneous or an erroneous legal
standard was applied. Id. "The chancellor, as
the trier of fact, evaluates the sufficiency ...