Amicus Brief

Florence Beach v Lima Township and Jeffrey V. Munger

Case Year: 2010
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: quiet title, adverse possession, Land Division Act (LDA)
Amicus Counsel:

Andrew J. Mulder | Vincent L. Duckworth | Cunningham Dalman, P.C. | 321 Settlers Road | Holland, MI 49422-1767 | 616-392-1821

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Michigan Township Association (MTA)
2. Michigan State Bar Public Corporation Law Section (PCLS)


Amicus counsel argues that the Michigan Court of Appeals erred in deciding that the plaintiff may assert a claim of title and exclusive possession to dedicated streets in a plat without filing an action to vacate, correct, or amend such plat pursuant to the requirements of the Land Division Act (LDA), and should therefore, be reversed. Amicus counsel argues that the Trial Court improperly granted an action to quiet title in this case because an adverse possession claim filed in circuit court constitutes an action to vacate, correct or revise a plat and therefore, must comply with the requirements of the LDA. The result of such a claim is that of a change in title and exclusive possession to dedicated streets in a plat. This clearly falls within a vacation, correction or revision, which requires the Plaintiff to comply with the LDA. Michigan’s recording statutes, and its case law, support this conclusion. Additionally, the Court of Appeals failed to recognize that an adverse possession claim requires the court to make a present day alteration of a recorded plat, as such, the procedural requirements of the LDA must be followed in order to provide notice to the public regarding such changes. An adverse possession claimant seeking judicial recognition of vested property rights may not decide at his or her own discretion whether to follow the procedural requirements of the LDA. Moreover, certain public policy concerns are implicated when there is a change of title and exclusive possession to dedicated streets in a recorded plat without the procedural requirements of the LDA being complied with. Such subversive changes in land ownership are contrary to the legislative intent of Michigan’s Congress, and undermine the ability of municipalities to competently conduct their public service obligations.


In an opinion by Chief Justice Young, joined by Justices Marilyn Kelly, Hathaway, Mary Beth Kelly, and Zahra, the Supreme Court held:
A plaintiff seeking to quiet title by adverse possession is not required to file a claim under the Land Division Act if that plaintiff is not expressly requesting to alter a recorded plat. Affirmed and remanded for the trial court to strike the portion of its order instructing that the plat be corrected.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? Yes

Florence Beach brought an action in the Washtenaw Circuit Court against Lima Township and Jeffrey Munger, seeking to quiet title to three streets dedicated on a plat recorded
in 1835. Other parties were subsequently added as plaintiffs. The township had acquired several of the lots shown on the plat and sought to use the streets for ingress to and egress from a fire department substation it proposed to build on the lots. Plaintiffs asserted that they had acquired title to the streets by adverse possession. The township brought a counterclaim to quiet title, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary disposition. In its motion, the township asserted that
plaintiffs had to bring an action under the Land Division Act (LDA), MCL 560.101 et seq., specifically MCL 560.221 through 560.229, to vacate streets created by a plat. The court,
Donald E. Shelton, J., denied the township summary disposition and, following an evidentiary hearing on the adverse-possession question, granted plaintiffs summary disposition. The township appealed. The Court of Appeals, WILDER, P.J., and MURPHY and METER, JJ., affirmed, holding in part that plaintiffs were not required to bring their adverse-possession action under the LDA because they did not expressly seek to vacate, correct, or revise a dedication in a plat. 283 Mich App 504 (2009). The Supreme Court granted the township’s application for leave to appeal, limited to the issue whether a plaintiff who seeks to establish an adverse-possession claim that would affect property in a recorded plat must file a claim under the LDA if the plaintiff is not expressly requesting that the plat be vacated, corrected, or revised. 485 Mich 1036 (2010).

Case Number: 2009-12
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