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Summary of the case
The case was filed by Daniel E. Musso Sr who was appealing against a ruling by the trial court, which had ruled in favor of Brentwood volunteer Fireman’s Association, grating the firm the right to own and a piece of land next to the respondent’s vehicle repair garage. The question was to determine whether the trial court had erred in its argument that a qui title to ownership of a piece of land can be lost based on abandonment or adverse possession. It also sought to clarify the contents and meaning of the legal term “mill privilege”. It also sought to determine whether the mill privilege could be lost through abandonment.
In answering the above issues, a number of legal issues had to be revisited. First, the contents of mill privilege and the impacts of land abandonment on the privilege was an important legal issue. It considered the following statues;
- A Treatise on the Law of Watercourses §§ 496-99, at 571-72 (5th ed. 1854).
- A Treatise on the Law of Watercourses § 498, at 572
Secondly, the meaning and contents of the term “Mill privileged” were defined under the following case laws;
- Moore v. Fletcher, 16 Me. 63, 65 (1839)
- Maddox v. Goddard, 15 Me. 218, 224 (1839)
Decision of the court
In this case, the court ruled in favor of the previous ruling the trial court. In other words, it affirmed the trial court’s ruling that any “the mill privilege that the respondent may have had was eventually lost from his possession through adverse possession abandonment”.
In making the ruling, the court made a number of remarks and used the relevant statute as well as case laws to proven the indeed, a mill privilege can be lost through abandonment or adverse possession. First, it sought to refute the respondent’s claim by examining the content and meaning of the term “mill privilege”. The court refers to Moore v. Fletcher 16 Me. 63, 65 (1839), which states, “the mill privilege means both water and land used together with a mill, on which any other appendages is situated”. In addition, the court referred to the case law Maddox v. Goddard 15 Me. 218, 224 (1839), which argued that “when a mill privilege is conveyed devoid of any bounds defined within the deed, such deeds are held with aim of conveyed a lot of land as required and used with the mill itself”.
In determining whether the law specifies that a mill privilege can be lost through abandonment, the court cited the case law A Treatise on the Law of Watercourses
§§ 496-99, at 571-72 (5th ed. 1854), which states that when the owner of mill site declares that he does not intend to maintain the work at the mill and accompanied by the relevant acts such as removing the water and providing notice of his intention, then there is evidence of abandonment. The statute, under section 497, at 572, also states that the nonuse of a land for an unreasonable time results into a loss of the privilege. Thus, the court argued that the trial court had not made an error when making the ruling because the statute was straight and clear.
The court also made the ruling because it refuted the respondent’s claim that the petitioner’s record title based on an affidavit by Stuart S. Wilson was invalid. The court ruled that the trial court had not erred in upholding the validity of the record title by referring to the statute 16A W. Fletcher, Fletcher Cyclopedia of the Law of Private Corporations § 8224, at 437 (2003). This statute states that the right to ownership of a pieice of land passes to the shareholders after the payment of a firm’s debts.
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