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Adverse Possession. The Wallen family owned a cabin on Lummi Island in the state of Washington. A driveway ran from the cabin across their property to South Nugent Road. Floyd Massey bought the adjacent lot and built a cabin on it in 19801980. To gain access to his property, Massey used a bulldozer to extend the driveway, without the Wallens' permission but also without their objection. Twenty-five years later, the Wallens sold their property to Wright Fish Company. Massey continued to use and maintain the driveway without permission or objection. Later, Massey sold his property to Robert Drake. Drake and his employees continued to use and maintain the driveway without permission or objection, although Drake knew it was located permission or objection, although Drake knew it was located largely on Wright's property. Still later, Wright sold its lot to Robert Smersh. The next year, Smersh told Drake to stop using the driveway. Drake filed a suit against Smersh, claiming adverse possession.

(a) The first group will decide whether Drake's use of the driveway meets all of the requirements for adverse possession.

(b) The second group will determine how the court should rule in this case and why. Does it matter that Drake knew the driveway was located largely on Wright's (and then Smersh's) property? Should it matter? Why or why not?

(c) A third group will evaluate the underlying policy and fairness of adverse possession laws. Should the law reward persons who take possession of someone else's land for their own use? Does it make sense to punish owners who allow someone else to use their land without complaint? Explain.

(d) The fourth group will consider how the laws governing adverse possession vary from state to state. To acquire title through adverse possession, a person might be required to possess the property for five years in one state, for instance, and for twenty years in another. Are there any legitimate reasons for such regional differences? Would it be better if all states had the same requirements? Explain your answers.


A Question of Ethics-The Doctrine of Precedent. Sandra White operated a travel agency. To obtain lower airline fares for her nonmilitary clients, she booked military-rate travel by forwarding fake military identification cards to the airlines. The government charged White with identity theft, which requires the "use" of another's identification. The trial court had two cases that represented precedents.

In the first case, David Miller obtained a loan to buy land by representing that certain investors had approved the Loan when, in fact, they had not. Miller's conviction for identity theft was overturned because he had merely said that the investors had done something when they had not. According to the court, this was not the "use" of another's identification.

In the second case, Kathy Medlock, an ambulance service operator, had transported patients when there was no medical necessity to do so. To obtain payment, Medlock had forged a physician's signature. The court concluded that this was "use" of another person's identity. [United States v. White, 846846 F.33d 170170 (66th Cir. 20172017)] (See Sources of American Law.)

  • Which precedent-the Miller case or the Medlock caseis similar to White's situation, and why?

  • In the two cases cited by the court, were there any ethical differences in the actions of the parties? Explain your answer.


Answered 9 months ago
Answered 9 months ago
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