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TALMAGE v. RONALD ALTMAN TRUST

December 30, 1994

ALBERT H. TALMAGE, Plaintiff, against RONALD ALTMAN TRUST, et al., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEONARD D. WEXLER

 WEXLER, District Judge

 Plaintiff Albert H. Talmage brings this diversity action to determine, pursuant to Article 15 of New York's Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law ("RPAPL"), his claim to certain real property located in the Hamlet of Bridgehampton, Town of Southampton, Suffolk County, New York (the "Subject Property"). *fn1" The answering defendants claim to be owners or mortgagees of certain lots and common areas comprising the Subject Property. Presently before the Court are motions by various of the answering defendants for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the amended complaint and to determine that these defendants have lawful titles and interests in the Subject Property based on adverse possession. *fn2" For the reasons below, the motions are granted.

 I. BACKGROUND

 In his amended complaint and in opposition to defendants' motions, plaintiff claims he derived title to property situated at the location of the Subject Property *fn3" through Charles A. Pierson ("Pierson"), an alleged former owner of the property. Defendants maintain that the property to which plaintiff claims title (the "Pierson Property") bordered but did not overlap the Subject Property, and, therefore, neither plaintiff nor those he claims are his predecessors in interest ever held title to any part or portion of the Subject Property. Defendants maintain further that Pierson conveyed the Pierson Property prior to his death, and, therefore, plaintiff could not have inherited that property. Alternatively, the defendant owners assert adverse possession as an affirmative defense and counterclaim claiming that they acquired titles to their respective lots in the Subject Property through adverse possession; as a result, defendants claim the titles and interests of the defendant owners and mortgagees in the Subject Property are free of any claim by plaintiff.

 According to plaintiff, Pierson acquired title to the Pierson Property as grantee of a deed from Edward Hildreth (also referred to as "Edward A. Hildreth") and Harriet Hildreth in 1883. The deed from Edward Hildreth and Harriet Hildreth to Pierson described the property as follows:

 
All that tract and parcel of land situate in said Bridge Hampton, Town of Southampton, containing by estimation twenty-seven acres be the same more or less and bounded North by lands of Oliver Halsey and E. Jones Ludlow, East by lands of said Ludlow and John A. Sandford and James L. Sandford, South by the highway and lands formerly of Lodowick H. Cook and West by lands formerly of said Cook and coming to a point at a large hole of open water in Kellis Pond swamp.

 Amended Complaint P 105; Affidavit of Richard Pellicane in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pellicane Aff."), App. A, at 2. According to plaintiff, Edward Hildreth acquired the property from James L. Haines (also referred to as "Haynes") by deed in 1878; Haines had acquired the property from Sarah Ludlow and Albert Ludlow by deed in 1856. As plaintiff claims, the descriptions of the property in the 1883 deed to Pierson, the 1878 deed to Hildreth, and the 1856 deed to Haines are substantially identical. The 1878 deed described the property as follows:

 
North by lands of Oliver Halsey and E. Jones Ludlow East by lands of said Ludlow of John A. Sandford and James L. Sandford, South by the highway and lands formerly of Lodowick H. Cook, and West by lands formerly of said Cook and coming to a point at a large hole of open water in the Killis Pond Swamp . . . .

 Pellicane Aff., App. A, at 1-2 (emphasis omitted). Similarly, the 1856 deed described the property as:

 
Parcel of land situated in Mecox . . . containing Twenty-Seven Acres . . . and bounded . . . North by Lands of Oliver Halsey and Lands formerly of Alvah Halsey deceased and Lands of the said parties of the first part East by Land of said parties of the first part and Lands now or formerly of James Sandford South by the highway and Land of Lodowick H. Cook and West by the Land of Lodowick H. Cook and coming to a point at a large open hole of water in Killis Pond Swamp . . . .

 Id. App. A, at 1 (emphasis omitted).

 Pierson died in 1903. Plaintiff claims that Pierson left the Pierson Property to his widow Ellen C. Pierson and his sister Caroline A. Hildreth, pursuant to a residuary clause in his will, dated January 10, 1885 and admitted to probate in Suffolk County. Amended Complaint P 109. The residuary clause described the property vaguely as:

 
All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate both real and personal, I give devise and bequeath to my Executor hereinafter named in trust to retain the same for a period of four years from and after my decease, and during said period my said executor is to pay to my widow if living the sum of seventy-five dollars per month out of the rents, issues, income and profits thereof, . . . and after the expiration of said period of four years, I hereby direct my said executor to pay over and convey to my said wife ...

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