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Watts v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 19, 2019

DARYL WATTS APPELLANT
v.
EARL JACKSON JR. APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/19/2017

          LAMAR COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. JOHNNY LEE WILLIAMS JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOSEPH PAUL PARKER

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: WILLIAM L. DUCKER

         EN BANC.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Daryl Watts asserts that the Lamar County Chancery Court erred in granting Earl Jackson Jr. a right of way across Daryl's family's land because Jackson did not meet the statutory burden to receive a prescriptive easement. We agree that all six required elements were not affirmatively proven. Accordingly, we reverse and render a judgment in favor of Watts.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In May 2016, Jackson filed a petition for a mandatory injunction and damages. Jackson asserted that Daryl was preventing him from accessing his property located behind the Watts property. Jackson had previously been accessing his property by a private road owned and maintained by the Wattses. After Roscoe and Teresa Watts passed, in settling Teresa's estate, their children decided to limit use of the private road to family only. To prevent Jackson from using the private road, Daryl installed a lock on the gate. The Lamar County Chancery Court entered a temporary restraining order against Daryl, ordering Daryl to open the gate and to stop obstructing Jackson's use of the right of way until a hearing on the merits could be held.

         ¶3. In June 2017, after a hearing on the merits, the chancery court ordered that the temporary injunction become permanent and awarded Jackson attorney's fees in the amount of $1, 500.

         ¶4. Aggrieved, Daryl appealed. On appeal, Daryl argues that the chancery court erred in granting Jackson a prescriptive easement and erred in awarding attorney's fees. We agree.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. "A chancellor's findings of fact will not be disturbed unless manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous." Paw Paw Island Land Co. v. Issaquena & Warren Ctys. Land Co. LLC, 51 So.3d 916, 923 (ΒΆ26) (Miss. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). "However, the Court will not hesitate to reverse if it finds the chancellor's decision is manifestly wrong, or that the court applied an erroneous legal ...


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