Stark Memo

Topics: Concurrent estate, Stark Industries, Property law Pages: 9 (3342 words) Published: May 29, 2013
Question Presented

Under North Carolina law, can a person adversely possess land that is held in co-tenancy when: 1.) The person has not recognized that they are in co-tenancy 2.) The person has had sole possession of the land for nineteen years 3.) The person has paid the property taxes from his personal account 4.) The person has resided on the property and 5.) The person has built a resort as his business on the land?

Brief Answer

No, a person is not likely to be able to claim the land held in co-tenancy under adverse possession when they fail to meet the statutory time. In North Carolina before a person can possess land that is held in co-tenancy, there must be an actual ouster or what North Carolina adheres to as a constructive ouster. The rule presumes the requisite ouster if one tenant in common has been in sole and undisturbed possession and has use of the land for at least twenty years without any demands for rents, profits, or possession from the other co-tenant as well as no acknowledgment of co-tenancy. North Carolina will not presume ouster if the complete possession is under twenty years and the person has acknowledged that they are in co-tenancy with another. Under this portion of the rule a court will most likely conclude that he has met the requirement of sole and undisturbed possession, has made no acknowledgement or demands from the other co-tenant, but has failed to do so for a the statutory period of twenty years.


Howard Stark was the father of Tony Stark. In 1985 Howard Stark died testate, which is he died with a will where he left Tony Stark all of his possessions. In this will, Howard Stark included a piece of land that originally belonged to Tony’s grandfather Stark. The land is a 17 acre plot located in the mountains of Stellar, N.C. This piece of land originally belonged to Grandfather Stark’s. In Grandfather Stark’s will he had left it originally to Howard Stark and his brother Anton Vanko. His instruction was for the land to be shared equally between the two brothers.

In 1989, Stark actually decided to visit the property and was quite pleased with the land. After his visit Stark instructed his assistant, Pepper Potts to conduct some research on the history of this land. Potts presented her research to Stark, which included Grandfather Stark’s will and an obituary for Anton Vanko. Anton Vanko died in December of 1988. Potts told Stark that during her research she came across rumors that Anton Vanko had a son, but that there has no evidence that could support this.

In February of 1991 Stark began to pay the taxes on this property and placed a camper on the property. Stark resided there while he was petitioning to the town council to have the area zoned for business. This process delayed his development of the land until January, 1992. Eventually, Stark was able to turn the undeveloped land into a resort, which opened in the summer of 1993. The resort was known as the “The Lodge.” Stark built a 15,000 square foot log cabin in the middle of the resort. Stark would stay in the cabin when he was visiting the resort.

In June of 1995 the resort began to offer boating, fishing, and whitewater rifting. The resort was opened for seven months of the year and it was closed during winter. In September of 1995 met with a man that was a supplier for hiking gear. The man told Stark that he knew Grandfather Stark and asked if Anton Vanko’s son was involved with the resort. Stark made the comment that he would pay him off before he would yield to sharing.

In the summer of 1998, there was a five year opening celebration. Stark decided to clear more of the land to build more cabins. The road leading to the resort was public, but Stark ignored this and placed a gate preventing entrance to the resort. The gate was guarded twenty four hours a day. There were signs posted that stated that “only authorized persons were allowed on the property.” Allowed...
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