When our client visited his island (Little Dipper Island) on Damariscotta Lake last spring, he was shocked to find “No Trespassing” signs on his camp, with the signs stating that his camp was owned by someone else. Even worse, the locks to his camp had been changed.
During the prior summer, a man in a boat (let’s just call him the neighbor) had come by one morning, and had yelled across the lake to my client, saying: “You are on my property.” My client told him where he could go (the opposite of heaven!!), and he thought that was the last of it.
We subsequently learned that the neighbor had acquired an island located in Jefferson on Damariscotta Lake from the Town of Jefferson through a tax foreclosure sale.
The neighbor’s claim, however, had one unmistakable problem: Little Dipper Island is located in Nobleboro. With a tax foreclosure on property located in Jefferson, the Town of Jefferson could not sell the neighbor land located in Nobleboro.
We thought that the neighbor’s attorney would understand his client’s precarious legal position. But the attorney was the one who had advised the client to take possession and post the no-trespassing signs. So attempts to resolve things quickly did not work.
After discovery, a request for admissions, surveying work documenting that Little Dipper was in Nobleboro, and a deposition (yes, the neighbor admitted that Little Dipper Island was in Nobleboro, not Jefferson), the neighbor agreed to pay costs, to release any claim to Little Dipper, to consent to judgment that established my client’s sole title to Little Dipper Island, and to apologize.
Too bad the neighbor’s attorney did not recognize the obvious from the start.