ALBERT S. DAUGHTRIDGE, JR. and MARY MARGRET HOLLOMAN DAUGHTRIDGE
TANAGER LAND, LLC
in the Supreme Court on 13 May 2019
discretionary review pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-31 of a
divided, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, No.
COA17-554, 2018 WL 3977990 ( N.C. Ct. App. August 21, 2018),
that affirmed an order granting summary judgment entered on
30 November 2016 by Judge Beecher R. Gray and a final
judgment and assessment of costs entered on 8 February 2017
by Judge Marvin K. Blount, III, both in Superior Court,
Halifax County. Heard in the Supreme Court on 13 May 2019 in
session in the Halifax County Courthouse in the Town of
Halifax pursuant to section 18B.8 of Chapter 57 of the 2017
Session Laws of the State of North Carolina.
Boxley, Bolton, Garber & Haywood, L.L.P., by Ronald H.
Garber, for plaintiff-appellants.
Charles S. Rountree, III for defendant-appellee.
land dispute presents the question of whether a court should
decide the intent of the parties as a matter of law when the
conveyances only reference lot numbers on a recorded map and
where the disputed property line as shown on the map is
ambiguous. Under these circumstances, the intent of the
parties concerning the boundary line is a question of fact to
be determined by a jury. Because we hold there is a genuine
issue of material fact as to the intended boundary, we
reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals that affirmed
summary judgment and other relief granted by the trial
acquiring a large tract of land in 1916, L.B. Fleming
subdivided it into seventeen numbered lots and filed a map,
the Best Farm Map ("the map"), in Plat Book 1, Page
32 in the Halifax County Registry, shown in full below.
of the lots have as their eastern boundaries a hypothetical
line in White's Mill Pond Run (the mill pond). Only the
southern boundary of Lot 8, however, does not have a metes
and bounds description to the hypothetical eastern line
terminating in the mill pond. Shortly after recording the
map, Fleming deeded plaintiffs' predecessor in title Lots
7 and 16 and defendant's predecessor in title Lot 8. The
conveyances described the land using lot numbers as being the
lots as shown on the recorded map; the respective deeds do
not include metes and bounds descriptions. The map shows the
dividing boundary between Lot 16 and Lot 8 to be along or
near the high water line of an inlet of the mill pond. The
map shows the mill pond without metes and bounds. Plaintiff
alleges the high water line has always been recognized as the
boundary, allowing plaintiffs to have water access and a boat
was no dispute as to the property line until 2008 when,
before acquiring Lot 8, defendant requested a survey. That
survey purports to place a sliver of land along the southern
shore of the pond inlet within Lot 8. The contested property
is land lying between the high water line and the center of
an earthen dam, extending along a portion of the shoreline
("the contested property"). Again, only by
reference to a recorded map, this time the 2008 map,
defendant took ownership of Lot 8,  claiming the contested
property. After the purchase was completed, defendant
installed a gate and posts on land that plaintiffs believed
to be their land, eliminating plaintiffs' access to the
November 2015, plaintiffs filed their complaint in Superior
Court, Halifax County, seeking a declaratory judgment and to
quiet title, and filed a notice of lis pendens with
the Register of Deeds on that same day. Plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint on 26 February 2016. Plaintiffs'
amended complaint described the portion of land at issue and
defendant's alleged encroachments upon plaintiffs'
land. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the
disputed land lies within the boundary of Lot 16, that the
title be quieted, and that defendant's encroachments be
removed. Defendants answered claiming the disputed land to be
within its boundary.
October 2016, defendant moved to dismiss plaintiffs'
action to quiet title and enter summary judgment for
defendant, to strike the notice of lis pendens, and
to award defendant costs and attorney fees. Plaintiffs
responded to defendant's motion and attached surveys,
affidavits, land leases, and depositions. Plaintiffs included
an affidavit from surveyor Michael Stahl and an accompanying
property line survey dated 20 July 2015. Plaintiffs'
evidence tended to show that plaintiffs' boundary line
extended to where the land north of the dam touches the high
water line of the mill pond on the 1916 map (relevant portion
of the map enlarged and shown below).
point to the location of the high water line as ...