LOUISE J. GALIHER, Trustee of the Louise J. Galiher Trust, Appellant (Plaintiff),
DENNIS and VICKI JOHNSON, Appellees (Defendants).
from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Marvin
L. Tyler, Judge
Representing Appellant: Anna Reeves Olson of Park Street Law
Office, Casper, Wyoming.
Representing Appellees: Matthew E. Turner of Mullikin, Larson
& Swift, LLC, Jackson, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE[*], FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
This case is before the Court for a second time and involves
a property dispute between Louise J. Galiher and her
neighbors, Dennis and Vicki Johnson (hereinafter the Johnsons
or Mr. Johnson). Following a bench trial, the district court
entered a judgment vesting title to a portion of Ms.
Galiher's property in the Johnsons by adverse possession.
Ms. Galiher appealed that decision, and this Court reversed
and remanded for the district court to consider the totality
of the evidence, including statements Mr. Johnson made
claiming he had permission to use the property. On remand,
the district court again concluded title to the disputed
property had vested in the Johnsons. Ms. Galiher appeals that
judgment, arguing the district court's findings of fact
were clearly erroneous, and the facts presented did not
support a finding of adverse possession. We affirm.
Ms. Galiher raises three issues in this appeal:
I. Whether the District Court's specific findings of fact
in paragraph Nos. 56, 58, 61 and 63 are inconsistent with
the evidence, clearly erroneous, and are contrary to the
weight of the evidence.
II. Whether the district court erred in finding that the
Johnsons had established a prima facie case for
adverse possession because when Mr. Johnson's
out-of-court statements are considered as true, it is clear
that the Johnsons never possessed the property under a
"claim of right."
III. Whether the district court erred when it refused to
consider any evidence of a neighborly accommodation.
In Galiher v. Johnson, 2017 WY 31, 391 P.3d 1101
(Wyo. 2017) (Galiher I), we engaged in a thorough
discussion of the relevant evidence provided during the bench
trial in this matter. For consistency's sake, we repeat
those facts here:
The parties' dispute relates to Lot 21 and Lot 23 of the
High Country subdivision in Teton County near the town of
Jackson, Wyoming. In 1977, Johnson's wife Vicki and her
former husband, Rick Hollingsworth, purchased a home situated
on Lot 21. The couple divorced in 1984. Johnson met his wife
in 1985 and married her the following year. In 1990,
Hollingsworth conveyed his interest in the property to the
Johnsons, who have continued to live there.
Lot 23 is directly south of Lot 21. Between 1978 and
Galiher's purchase in early March of 2013, the ownership
of Lot 23 had changed eight times. . . . .
On April 15, 2013, Galiher received the report of a survey
she had commissioned and set out to examine the boundaries of
Lot 23. In the extreme northwestern corner of her property
she discovered what appeared to be a scattering of junk
covered in part by weeds that were three feet high, as well
as evidence of vehicles parking on her property. She then
phoned the county planning and development office about the
process she would have to pursue to have the junk removed.
That inquiry led Jennifer Anderson, the planning office's
code compliance officer, to send a letter to Johnson about
the issue on April 22, 2013. Sometime after discussing the
matter with Anderson, and telling her that prior owners had
given him permission to use that corner of Lot 23, Johnson
Johnson also informed Galiher that previous owners of Lot 23
had given his family permission to use that corner of her
property for parking for a number of years, and he asked for
permission to continue that use. He promised he would
maintain it in a manner that was acceptable to her. Galiher
denied him permission, but granted his request for
forty-eight hours to remove his things. When Johnson then
asked if guests could use it for overflow parking on those
limited occasions when he was hosting a party, she told him
she would have to think about it.
A week or more later,  Johnson called Galiher a second time and
told her he was not going to remove his things from her
property, and that he would continue to use it as he had been
because he felt he had a right to be there. He did not tell
her what prompted him to change his mind.
On May 11, 2013, Galiher saw that Johnson was still occupying
her property, asked her friend Mary Martin to drive out to
serve as a witness, and requested that a deputy sheriff be
sent to the scene. While Galiher spoke to the deputy, Martin
recognized Johnson as an old acquaintance from days when they
both worked as department heads for Teton County.
Consequently, she went to speak with him.
When Martin asked what he was doing, Johnson replied that he
was getting his "stuff cleaned off this property"
because his neighbor was upset. He also informed Martin that
previous owners of the property had given him permission to
use this small corner of it, and that he was really upset the
new owner was not being similarly neighborly.
On May 24, 2013, Galiher sued to quiet title to Lot 23,
alleging that the Johnsons' use of the disputed portion
of her property had been permissive. The Johnsons filed an
answer and counterclaim seeking to quiet title to the
disputed parcel based upon adverse possession on July 16. On
June 20, 2014, they filed a motion for summary judgment,
which the district court denied on December 1, 2014. The
court concluded that contested issues of material fact
existed with respect to whether [the] Johnsons' use of
the disputed property was sufficiently open, notorious,
exclusive, and hostile, and whether use of the property was
permissive. A bench trial was thereafter held on July 28,
At the trial, Hollingsworth testified that when he and his
then wife purchased the house on Lot 21, there were two
retaining walls, the southern ends of which later were found
to intrude slightly onto lot 23. After two to three years of
living there, he converted the garage on the southern end of
the house into a family room and built a new garage and
driveway on the northern end of the home. He believed that
from that time until his divorce his family parked
exclusively in the new garage and driveway. However, on
occasions when they hosted numerous guests, some would park
in the disputed area when the old driveway was full.
Johnson testified that use of the disputed area increased
somewhat after he married Hollingsworth's ex-wife. Each
of them had a private vehicle and an employer-provided work
vehicle. During winters, the slope of the northern driveway
sometimes made it impractical to park there, so vehicles that
could not be stored in the garage were parked in the disputed
area. Their parking needs increased after 1988 due first to
their children reaching driving age, and later to the
Johnsons' decision to take in renters after the children
moved out, as well as the periodic return of some of the
children and their families to live in the home.
Johnson also testified that he placed other items on the
disputed property to the east of the area used for parking.
He kept construction materials there during remodeling work
from 2000 to 2003, and he parked a pop-up camper there for
five years. During the remodeling, he moved a small portable
shed that he previously kept close to his house onto the
disputed area, and he placed a short portable wooden
boardwalk there. Neither of those items was secured to the
. . . .
Until Galiher had her property surveyed and her property
lines marked, Johnson did not know where Lot 21 ended and Lot
23 began, and he thought that her predecessors in interest
permitted his use of the disputed area out of a sense of
reasonable neighborly accommodation. He recognized all along that
his various neighbors owned much of the land he was using for
parking, and until his first conversation with Galiher, he
had taken no steps to assert his  ownership over any part
of Lot 23.
On March 17, 2016, the district court issued its decision, in
which it concluded the Johnsons had proven their adverse
possession claim. The court identified the central question
to be whether, in light of Johnson's satisfaction of his
burden of producing evidence indicative of adverse
possession, Galiher sufficiently rebutted that proof with
evidence that Johnson's use of the disputed property was
permissive or otherwise not hostile to Galiher's
Paragraph 9 in the "Findings and Conclusions"
portion of the district court's decision recites:
Defendants' subjective intent or any other property
owner's subjective intent is irrelevant in proving or
disproving adverse possession. As such, the Court will only
rely on the admissible objective evidence and testimony
presented at trial in considering Defendants' intent to
establish adverse possession.
The court found that between 1977 and 1984, and between 1986
and 2013, neither the Hollingsworths nor the Johnsons asked
for or received permission from any owner of Lot 23 to use
the disputed property. Finding that Galiher had not shown by
admissible evidence that such use was permissive or a
neighborly accommodation, the court determined the Johnsons