Bozzetti v. Pohlmann, 94 AD3d 1201 (3d Dept 2012)

The firm prevailed for Plaintiffs in a land boundary and title dispute involving property of three different parties in rural Greene County, New York.  Following a five-day non-jury trial, Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough ruled on April 22, 2013 in favor of Plaintiffs in two consolidated cases (Meyer v. Bozzetti, No. 08-0938; Bozzetti v. Pohlmann, No. 08-1086).

The Meyers, Bozzettis and Pohlmanns own considerable land in the Town of New Baltimore, and share common boundaries.  The Bozzettis claimed in each case to own several acres of land of the Meyers and Pohlmanns.  The highlight of the trial was the testimony and cross examination of two surveyors, Joanne Crum for the Meyers and Pohlmanns and Robert Ihlenburg for the Bozzettis.  The key issues involved interpretation of the language of the parties’ “parent” deed, written in 1939, including references to a “pear orchard,” several calls for old “stone walls,” lines running at the “foot of a hill,” and reference to a “double trunk cherry tree.”  In addition to the Pohlmanns, Young/Sommer presented testimony from an arborist (regarding the possibility of the ancient “pear orchard” mentioned in the deed) and a contractor who refuted Bozzetti’s testimony that the Pohlmanns had reputedly moved one of the “stone walls” that served as a boundary line.

The firm contended that Bozzetti and Ihlenburg’s position on the parties’ boundaries was not credible, or had been concocted for purposes of the litigation, and the Court agreed.

The Court finds that [Joanne] Crum performed the most comprehensive and reliable survey… and that Crum’s testimony was entirely credible and convincing.  By contrast, the Bozzettis failed to present any credible evidence regarding their claim…

After hearing Ihlenburg’s testimony, the Court finds that the new lines that Ihlenburg has marked on his… map serve only to illustrate Bozzetti’s various demands for new boundary lines that expand his acreage… rather than to follow the deeds’ language and properly apply the rules of [deed] construction.

The Court also agreed with the Pohlmanns’ expert arborist Robert Beyfuss that the fruit trees in the disputed area relied on by Bozzetti were “wild apples” not “pears.”  Finally, the Court credited the testimony of the Pohlmanns and the contractor that Bozzetti had attempted to “manufacture evidence” of one of the disputed stone walls (“Even Ihlenburg would not adopt Bozzetti’s testimony about the stone wall… east of the hickory tree”).

Young/Sommer has worked successfully with surveyor Joanne Crum on a number of real property boundary and title disputes in the upstate New York region and the decision reflects our success representing clients in such matters.