gray-large.pngThompson v. Schlittenhart, 47 Wn.App. 209, 734 P.2d 48 (Div. I, 1987.03.18) – [Cause No: 17041-4-I] – upholds (a King County [Superior] Trial Court decision regarding a quiet title matter brought by Thompsons against the Schlittenharts who unsuccessfully claimed adverse possession to legal descriptions which overlap.



  • Land Type: City/Suburban
  • Water Feature: Not Specified
  • Taxes Paid by AP: Not Specified, Unlikely 

Chain of Title: 

  • TH – Thompson: Elmer & Jane Conger –> V.J. Wade in 1936.09 –> Thompson in 1953.
  • AP – Schlittenhart: Elmer & Jane Conger –> Lulu Conger in 1923.05 –> Schlittenhart in 1971.

Disputed Property:

An overlap of the boundary line descriptions apparently created at the time of subdivision of the original property owned by Elmer and Jane Conger identified in the case specifically as follows:

The description in the [AP – Shlittenhart’s predecessor] Lulu Conger deed begins at a point some 1400 feet southeast of the Congers’ property, describes all of the Congers’ property and then excepts out a parcel from the southeast corner. The description of this exception begins at the southeast corner of the Congers’ property. The description in the [TH – Thompson’s predecessor] V.J. Wade deed begins at the same point as the [AP – Shlittenhart’s predecessor] Lulu Conger deed and does not coincide exactly with the description of the exception in the Lulu Conger deed. Consequently, the boundary line between the properties was not the same in both deeds. Emphasis Added. (p. 210).  

Uses & Activities:

[Alphabetic Fact Support AP Claimant Schlittenhart – Numeric Supports TH Claimant Thompson]  

“In 1969, the Thompsons [A] built a chain link fence inward from the [1] barbed wire fence some 12 feet on the west and 4 feet on the north. The [B] Thompsons continued to [2] mow the grass up to the barbed wire fence line.” (p. 210).

Initial Survey for Thompson:

In 1979, the City of Auburn widened the street on the southeast of both properties. The Thompsons had their property surveyed by William Baumgras, wo concluded that the true boundary of the Thompsons’ property was approximately along the barbed wire fence line. Baumgras first determined that the Thompsons’ deed did not establish the true boundary because it did not close and the courses were incomplete and inconsistent. In particular, he could not determine whether the southeast corner of the Thompsons’ property was on the county road or just slighly west of it. He then examined the deeds of the surrounding properties, the conveyances of the Thompsons’ predecessors in interest, an unrecorded plat referred to in the Thompsons’ deed, monuments on the ground and county road maps to determine the intent of the initial commond grantors, the Congers. Emphasis added. (p. 211).

Second Survey for Schlittenharts:

The Schlittenharts did not agree with Baumgras’s survey so, in 1980, they had the Thompsons’ property surveyed by Robert McKiddy. McKiddy examined much the same information and used the same procedure as Baumgras did, but determined that the county road to the east of both properties was 60feet wide rather than 40 feet wide and used the calls exactly ast they were found in the Thompsons’ deed. McKiddy’s survey placed the boundary 15 feet south and 5 feet east of where Baumgras’s survey placed it. Because his survey would make the southern boundary of the Thompson’s and Schlittenharts’ properties not a straight line, McKiddy did not believe that his survey reflected the intent of the Congers, but saw his duty as faithfully following the description in the Thompsons’ deed. Emphasis Added (p. 211).


“[W]hether the [predominately claimants of TH] Thompsons established their ownership of the disputed parcel by adverse possession.” (p. 212).


No Adverse Possession Own Property – “A person cannot adversely possess his own property.” (p. 213).


Williams, Judge.

“The trial court essentially concluded that the Thompsons are the record owners of this parcel. … The judgment is affirmed.”(p. 213).

Ringold, Acting C.J., and Coleman, J., concur.

Justice Smiles’ Thoughts:

This is an obvious rule. BUT, the fact that the Thompsons also claimed the property by adverse possession indicates that they were unsure they could gain the property otherwise and so they appear to have plead in the alternative. This is a “Try-All” approach to Trial which the court bought in this case. That approach sometimes works in that it confuses – as it may have done here – a situation which doesn’t quite seem real world.

Thompsons prevailed, but they might have had a better go of it had they not removed the barbed wire fence. Yet, if by not removing the barbed wire fence they prevented Schlittenharts from doing this, they may have prevented the need to file and serve a quiet title action against Schlittenharts on a time schedule which for which they had less control.

The question which arises in my mind – with full knowledge that it probably will never be known – is whether the street widening was truly the impetus for all the survey work, or did it provide very timely cover for the Thompsons to go ahead with their survey.gray-small.png