JOHNNIE LEE LAWSON and BARBARA G. LAWSON, Plaintiffs,
NOEL LAWSON, HESTER LAWSON JONES, KWAME LAWSON, CLEOTIS LAWSON, JR. and wife, KATRINA LAWSON and PERRY LAWSON, Defendants
Heard in the Court of Appeals August 26, 2014
This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]
Person County. No. 10 CVS 828.
Oertel, Koonts & Oertel, PLLC, by Geoffrey K. Oertel, for plaintiff-appellants.
The Law Offices of Brian L. Crawford, P.A., by Brian L. Crawford, for defendant-appellees.
BRYANT, Judge. Chief Judge McGEE and Judge STROUD concur.
Where the trial court properly considered the evidence and the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law, we affirm the decision of the trial court to affirm the referee's report in its entirety.
On 18 November 2010, plaintiffs Johnnie Lee Lawson and Barbara G. Lawson filed a complaint against Noel Lawson, Hester Lawson Jones, Kwame Lawson, Cleotes Lawson, Jr., and wife Katrina Lawson, and Perry Lawson (" defendants" ). Plaintiffs brought claims for quiet title and trespass to real property against all defendants, and a claim for destruction of trees against defendant Perry Lawson. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants had trespassed onto, erected buildings and fences on, and removed trees from plaintiffs' property " without consent or permission." On 18 January 2011, defendants answered and counterclaimed for abuse of process, malicious use of process, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
On 23 March, plaintiffs filed a reply and motion to dismiss defendants' counterclaims. On 24 October, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs then filed a motion for reference for appointment of a referee on 28 November, which was granted by order of the trial court on 28 March 2012. The trial court entered an amended order on 24 April after it was determined that the surveyor appointed as the referee had merged with another surveying company.
On 18 June, the referee filed a report which concluded that the placement of the disputed property line was correct as it was currently designated by physical boundary markers and that based on this determination of the property line, defendants had not committed trespass or damage to plaintiffs' property. Plaintiffs timely filed a motion for exceptions to findings of referee on 16 July. Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on 21 September.
On 3 October 2012, a hearing was held on plaintiffs' motion for exceptions to findings of referee. In an order entered 16 July 2013, the trial court upheld the findings of the referee and concluded that the plat map generated by the referee should be entered as the ...