May 21, 2009

Installation and maintenance of drainage tile equitably estopps adjoining property owners from challenging right to maintain the drainage tile

CHRIS D. THORNTON, ET AL. v. LESLIE HIGDON, JR., ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. October 24, 2008).

The plaintiffs filed this action to quiet title to a twelve-foot strip of property claimed by adjoining property owners, the defendants. The defendants disputed the plaintiffs' claim and pointed to a seventy-foot drainage tile they had constructed and maintained as evidence of their ownership of the disputed strip of land. The trial court found that the boundary line should be set in accordance with the plaintiffs' survey; however, the trial court also found that the plaintiffs were equitably estopped to challenge the defendants' right to maintain the drainage tile. Both parties appeal. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Opinion may be found at the TBA website:

"The trial court found that the drainage system was installed with “the knowledge and understanding of the other parties in question, both Willie and Jerry Higdon, who preceded the
Thorntons in their chain of title.” The evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s ruling that the Higdons have the right to access the drainage system and the right to maintain it in its present location, but they may not expand the drainage system or take any action that would constitute a nuisance." Id.