In this action, both parties claim ownership of a small rectangular parcel of land depicted as "40 ft. Water Easement," on a recorded plan titled "Redivision of Land Pinecrest Road Abington, Mass" (Disputed Area.) Plaintiffs/Defendants-in-Counterclaim (Plaintiffs or Blakemans) initiated this action to "try title" under G. L. c. 240, §§ 15, on March 26, 2014, seeking to establish ownership of the Disputed Area. Defendants/Plaintiffs-in-Counterclaim (Defendants or Cellinis) filed an answer and counterclaim on May 27, 2014. Like the complaint, the counterclaim set forth a count to try title under G. L. c. 240, §§ 15, and also articulated Defendants' alternative count to establish title by adverse possession against the Blakemans if they were found to be the record owners of the Disputed Area. [Note 1]
A "try-title" action allows a party in possession claiming title to property to compel an adverse claimant to prove the merits of the adverse claimant's interest in the property. Abate v. Fremont Inv. & Loan, 470 Mass. 821 , 822 (2015). The first step in a try-title action requires that the plaintiff satisfy the jurisdictional elements of G. L. c. 240, §§ 15. If the elements are satisfied, the second step requires that the adverse claimant either bring an action asserting his or her claim of title, or disclaim an interest in the property. Id. at 422. Often defendants will file a declaratory judgment asserting their title as a counterclaim, and the court combines the claims into a single action, declaring the superior title at the conclusion of the case. Jepson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., 969 F. Supp. 2d 202, 205 (D. Mass. 2013). In this action, both Plaintiffs and Defendants filed try-title actions, and, at the court's suggestion, agreed to convert their respective claims to an action for declaratory judgment in which the court would declare who has record title to the Disputed Area, without the procedural process that attaches to a try-title case. [Note 2]
A party seeking declaratory judgment under G. L. c. 231A must "set forth a real dispute caused by the assertion by one party of a legal relation or status or right in which he has a definite interest and the denial of such assertion by the other party, where the circumstances . . . indicate that, unless a determination is had, subsequent litigation as to the identical subject matter will ensue." Hogan v. Hogan, 320 Mass. 658 , 662 (1947). "[A]n express purpose of declaratory judgment is to afford relief from . . . uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, duties, status and other legal relations.'" Boston v. Keene Corp., 406 Mass. 301 , 30405 (1989), quoting G. L. c. 231A, § 9. There is clearly an actual controversy between the parties regarding who has record title to the Disputed Area. The Cellinis claim the Disputed Area has always been part of a larger parcel, known as Lot C, which was conveyed by Lewis R. Hughey and June E. Hughey in 1957, and, following mesne conveyances, is now held by the Cellinis. The Blakemans assert the Disputed Area was carved out of Lot C, was never conveyed into the Cellinis' chain of title, and was conveyed separately into a chain of title that eventually devolved to the Blakemans. After trial, this court finds and determines the Cellinis own the Disputed Area free and clear of title in or interest of Plaintiffs, and judgment will enter accordingly.
Two days of trial took place on May 16 and 17, 2016. On behalf of Plaintiffs, the court heard testimony from Plaintiff Kevin D. Blakeman; Joseph D. Shea, an employee of the Town of Abington Assessor's Office; Defendant Mark Cellini; Attorney Shawn P. Reilly; and Charles A. Budnick, a professional land surveyor. On Defendants' behalf, the court heard testimony from Raymond N. Pike, Jr., a son of Raymond N. Pike, Sr.; Gail Agneta, a daughter of Raymond N. Pike, Sr.; and Robert J. Buckley, a professional land surveyor. Twenty-nine exhibits were entered in evidence. Both parties filed post-trial briefs. Based on the agreed statement of facts, stipulations, exhibits, and the credible testimony at trial, and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, this court finds the following material facts:
1. Plaintiffs Kevin Blakeman and Brian Blakeman and Defendants Mark Cellini and Andrea Cellini each trace their respective title to common grantors, Lewis R. Hughey and June E. Hughey (Hugheys), and a common prior owner, Raymond N. Pike, Sr.
Conveyances of Lot C
2. On March 26, 1954, Murray A. Stevens and Ruth F. Stevens conveyed to Lewis R. Hughey and June E. Hughey certain parcel in Abington by a deed recorded with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds in Book 2333, at Page 243. [Note 3]
a. The land conveyed is described as follows:
Northerly by lands of owner unknown and one Hughey, 273 feet, more or less;
Easterly by Pinecrest Road, 100 feet, more or less;
Northerly by Pinecrest Road 40 feet; Easterly by land of one Bartlett 70 Feet more or less;
Southerly by land of unknown 313 feet more or less;
Westerly by land of unknown 167 feet more or less.
3. On June 4, 1954, Malcom G. Jordon conveyed to Lewis R. Hughey and June E. Hughey certain land in Abington by a deed recorded in Book 2349, at Page 307.
a. The land conveyed is described as follows:
The land in said Abington, situated westerly from Pinecrest Road, bounded as follows: [b]eginning at the southeast corner of the lot by a stone wall at a point one hundred three and 60/100 (103.60) feet westerly from the west line of Pinecrest Road; thence N.15°11'35" W. by other land of Hughey and land of George D. and Anita E. Minnehan, two hundred twenty-one and 58/100 (221.58) feet to a point seventy-five (75) feet southerly from land of Robert J. Cotter et ux; thence S.58°52'10" W. by land of Malcom G. Jordon, three hundred fifteen and 48/100 (315.48) feet to a stone wall; thence S.3°16' E. by said wall, fifty-three and 47/100 (53.47) feet to a drill hole in the stone wall, and land now or formerly of Annie M. Randall; thence by said wall N. 89°37'40" E. by the wall and land of Annie M. Randall, one hundred forty-seven and 11/100 (147.11) feet to a point; thence N.89°27'40" E. still by the wall and other land of Hughey, one hundred seventy-seven and 96/100 (177.96) feet to the point of beginning.
Lot C and the Disputed Area as Shown on "The Plan" Drawn for the Hugheys
4. Lot C was first defined by the Hugheys in 1954, as a redivision of land shown on a plan titled "Redivision of Land Pinecrest Road Abington, Mass. Made for Lewis Raymond Hughey Scale: 40 feet to an inch. December 8, 1954. Lewis W. Perkins and Son, Eng'rs., Hingham, Mass." (Plan), recorded by the Hugheys in Plan Book 10, at Page 244. [Note 4]
5. The Disputed Area is shown on the Plan as a small rectangular parcel, approximately forty feet wide and seventy feet long, situated at the stub end of Pinecrest Road. It is labeled "40 ft. Water Easement" on the Plan.
6. All perimeter boundary lines of Lot C shown on the Plan are depicted as solid lines or representations of stone walls.
7. As shown on the Plan, a dashed line separates the Disputed Area from Lot C. The other three lines that bound the Disputed Area are solid lines or representations of stone walls, and are coincident with the perimeter boundary lines of Lot C along its southern and easterly boundaries, and at its northerly boundary line at the stub end of Pinecrest Road.
8. The Disputed Area is bounded to the east by a parcel identified as "Bartlett" and to the south by a parcel identified as "Harry W. Randall Estate."
9. The parcel marked as "Harry W. Randall Estate" is currently owned by the Blakemans.
10. The southwesterly and southeasterly corners of the Disputed Area are each marked with the letters "d. h.," indicating the location of a drill holes found by the surveyor who prepared the Plan.
December 4, 1957 Deed
11. On December 4, 1957, the Hugheys conveyed to Raymond N. Pike land in Abington by a deed recorded in Book 2607, at Page 64 (December 4 Deed). The land conveyed is described as follows:
[T]he land in ABINGTON aforesaid, with the buildings thereon, located on the westerly side of Pinecrest Road, being shown as Lot "C" on plan entitled, "Redivision of Land, Pinecrest Road, Abington, Mass., December 8, 1954, Lewis W. Perkins & Son, Engrs.," recorded with Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Plan Book 10, Page 244. [Note 5] Said Lot "C" is bounded and described as follows:
EASTERLY by said Pinecrest Road, one hundred eighty and 01/100 (180.01) feet;
SOUTHERLY by land of the Harry W. Randall estate, two hundred seventy-six and 42/100 (276.42) feet;
WESTERLY by land of Annie M. Randall, one hundred sixty-seven and 56/100 (167.56) feet;
SOUTHERLY by said land of Annie M. Randall, one hundred forty-seven and 11/100 (147.11) feet;
WESTERLY by a stone wall, fifty-three and 47/100 (53.47) feet;
NORTHWESTERLY by land of Malcom G. Jordan, two hundred sixty-three and 48/100 (263.48) feet;
EASTERLY by Lots "A" and "B," one hundred ninety-four and 23/100 (194.23) feet; and
NORTHERLY by Lot "B" and by the Hughey lot, one hundred fifty-three and 13/100 (153.13) feet.
Containing, according to said plan, 82,479 square feet.
12. The wording of the metes and bounds description in the December 4 Deed does not include the Disputed Area, and are at odds with the depiction of Lot C on the Plan.
a. Specifically, the December 4 Deed describes the easterly boundary of Lot C as running 180.01 feet along Pinecrest Road even though the Plan does not depict the boundary running along Pinecrest Road for that distance.
b. The Plan shows, as a solid line, the easterly boundary of Lot C running 15.50 feet and 94.50 feet along Pinecrest Road, for a total of 110 feet. It continues with a solid line easterly 40.00 feet bordering the stub end of Pinecrest Road and then southerly along the Disputed Area for 70.13 feet.
13. The area of Lot C, including the area of the Disputed Area, is approximately 82,479 square feet.
14. The area of Lot C, excluding the area of the Disputed Area, is approximately 79,678 square feet.
December 5, 1957 Deed
15. The next day, December 5, 1957, the Hugheys executed a second deed to Raymond N. Pike, conveying the Disputed Area as shown on the Plan (December 5 Deed). There was no (or nominal) consideration for the December 5 Deed. The description was:
[T]he land in ABINGTON, aforesaid, located southerly of Pinecrest Road, as shown on plan entitled, "Redivision of Land, Pinecrest Road, Abington, Mass., December 8, 1954, Lewis W. Perkins & Son, Engrs.," recorded with Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Plan Book 10, Page 244; and being bounded and described, according to said plan, as follows:
NORTHERLY by Pinecrest Road, forty and 00/100 (40.00) feet;
EASTERLY by land now or formerly of Bartlett, seventy and 13/100 (70.13) feet;
SOUTHERLY by land now or formerly of Harry W. Randall, forty and 00/100 (40.00) feet; and
WESTERLY by land of the grantees and shown on said plan as Lot "C," seventy and 01/100 (70.01) feet.
Subject to a forty foot water drainage easement, if any of record.
Subsequent Conveyances Pike to Koreys
16. On June 1, 1979, Raymond N. Pike conveyed to George N. Korey and Janet A. Korey (Koreys) land in Abington by a deed recorded in Book 4666, at Page 40 referring to the land as Lot C on the Plan (Pike Deed).
a. The Pike Deed describes the land conveyed using the same description as that set forth in the December 4 Deed, repeating the discrepancies between the metes and bounds description of Lot C and its depiction on the Plan, referenced in the deed.
b. Attorney John Reilly acted as the conveyancing attorney for this transaction.
17. Raymond N. Pike died on December 17, 1988.
a. Following his death, a probate proceeding was filed in Massachusetts. Raymond N. Pike, Jr., as executor of the estate, completed an inventory of property owned by his father at the time of his death. Mr. Pike, Jr. and his sister, Gail Agneta, provided the information for the inventory, which did not list the Disputed Area nor any property on Pinecrest Road in Abington.
b. The absence of Pinecrest Road property in Mr. Pike's inventory is consistent with Mr. Pike's conveyance to the Koreys under the Pike Deed, and inconsistent with the Blakemans' theory that Mr. Pike retained ownership of the Disputed Area until 2011, when the Blakemans obtained a deed from Raymond N. Pike, Jr., as Trustee of the Raymond N. Pike Revocable Trust Agreement. (See Par. 27 below).
Koreys to Norfolk District Attorney's Office
18. On May 29, 1992, the Koreys conveyed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Norfolk District Attorney's Office, land in Abington by deed recorded in Book 11010, at Page 241 referring to the land as Lot C on the Plan (Korey Deed).
a. The Korey Deed describes the land conveyed using the same description as that set forth in the December 4 Deed, which this court finds included the Disputed Area, despite the internal inconsistencies. The deed, apparently executed in connection with a forfeiture, was for nominal consideration.
Norfolk District Attorney's Office to the Cellinis
19. On November 5, 1992, the Norfolk District Attorney's Office conveyed to Mark P. Cellini and Andrea H. Cellini land in Abington by deed recorded in Book 11403, at Page 049.
a. This deed describes the conveyed land using the same description as the one set forth in the December 4 Deed, which this court finds included the Disputed Area, despite its internal inconsistencies.
20. In connection with the purchase of Lot C, on November 5, 1992, the Cellinis granted a purchase money mortgage to Abington Savings Bank, recorded in Book 11403, at Page 51.
21. Attorney John Reilly acted as the title insurance agent in connection with the conveyance from the District Attorney's Office to the Cellinis. Attorney Shawn Reilly, son of Attorney John Reilly, acted as the closing attorney in connection with this conveyance, representing Abington Savings Bank.
22. In preparing for closing, Shawn Reilly testified that he noted two issues of concern in connection with the grantor's title. The most relevant issue he noted was the discrepancy between Lot C as shown on the Plan (which included the Disputed Area) and the metes and bounds description of Lot C contained in the deed proffered by the District Attorney's office (which excluded the Disputed Area) from Lot C.
23. Attorney Reilly inquired whether the District Attorney's Office would correct the boundary discrepancies in the deed conveying Lot C to the Cellinis. The District Attorney declined, stating the paperwork for the forfeiture already had been filed in Superior Court.
24. Faced with the District Attorney's refusal to redo the instruments, Attorney Shawn Reilly concluded that the reference to Lot C as shown on the Plan controlled over an erroneous boundary description in the deed into the Cellinis. On that basis, he certified to Abington Savings Bank and the Cellinis that the deed from the Norfolk District Attorney's Office into the Cellinis conveyed the entirety of Lot C, including the Disputed Area.
a. When preparing the mortgage, Shawn Reilly used as the description of the mortgaged premises the description in the deed from the District Attorney's Office in order to avoid potential problems caused by different descriptions in the deed and mortgage.
25. In 1999, Shawn Reilly represented Abington Savings Bank for a refinance of the Cellinis' mortgage loan secured by Lot C. He drafted a legal description, attached as Exhibit A to the title policy, adhering to the perimeter boundary lot lines shown on the Plan, which included the Disputed Area, thereby correcting the discrepancy, consistent with his view the Lot C included the Disputed Area.
Plaintiffs' Offer to Purchase the Disputed Area
26. In or around 20072008, Shawn Reilly, then representing the Blakemans, approached the Cellinis to inquire whether they would be interested in selling the Disputed Area to the Blakemans. No sale took place.
Most Recent Purported Conveyance of the Disputed Area
27. At the request of the Blakemans, on November 16, 2011, Raymond N. Pike, Jr., as Trustee of the Raymond N. Pike Revocable Trust Agreement, conveyed the Disputed Area to the Blakemans by quitclaim deed recorded in Book 40715, at Page 18 (Pike Trust Deed).
a. The Pike Trust Deed contained the metes and bounds description from the December 5 Deed.
b. The Pike Trust Deed also stated at the end of the metes and bounds description "[f]or Title, see Deed dated December 5, 1957 and recorded with the Plymouth Registry of Deeds at Book 2607, Page 444."
28. On November 29, 2011, the Cellinis granted a mortgage of Lot C to HarborOne Credit Union which is recorded in Book 40652, at Page 327.
Assessor's Office Records
29. The earliest assessor's map that could be located by the Town of Abington is dated February 1974. From that date until January 2012, the Disputed Area was always included as part of Lot C, associated with 39 Pinecrest Road, and not shown as a separate parcel for tax assessment purposes.
30. In or around June 2012, the Assessor's Office of the Town of Abington revised its map to reflect the Disputed Area as a lot separate from the lot associated with 39 Pinecrest Road, presumably due to the Pike Trust Deed.
* * * * *
I. The Cellinis' Predecessor-in-Title Conveyed Lot C as One Undivided Parcel in the December 4 Deed, as Depicted on the Referenced Plan; Therefore the Pike Trust Deed Conveyed Nothing to the Blakemans.
"The basic principle governing the interpretation of deeds is that their meaning, derived from the presumed intent of the grantor, is to be ascertained from the words used in the written instrument, construed when necessary in the light of the attendant circumstances." Sheftel v. Lebel, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 175 , 179 (1998). Any uncertainty in the construction of a deed is construed against the grantor and in favor of the grantee. Bernard v. Nantucket Boys' Club, Inc., 391 Mass. 823 , 827 (1984). "Various rules of construction have been adopted to aid in the ascertainment of the intent of the parties where a deed contains conflicting descriptions of the property conveyed." Morse v. Chase, 305 Mass. 504 , 507 (1940).
There is a hierarchy of priorities for interpreting descriptions in a deed and other instruments. Descriptions referring to monuments control over those using courses and distances, courses and distances control over those that use area, and descriptions by area seldom are a controlling factor. Holmes v. Barrett, 269 Mass. 497 , 499500 (1929). "These rules are based upon common experience and are of general application. They are not, however, inflexible, and they are not to be followed if they would lead to a result plainly inconsistent with the intent of the parties." Morse, 305 Mass. at 507.
In the instant case, the December 4 Deed, characterized by both parties as the deed from which the problems arise, contains a metes and bounds description of Lot C as well as a reference to a recorded plan on which Lot C is shown. The metes and bounds description excludes the Disputed Area from Lot C. The Plan, however, shows the Disputed Area as part of Lot C and not as a separate, distinct parcel. The question before this court is which description prevails, and, as stated above, this court decides in favor of the Cellinis.
The evidence establishes that the Hugheys intended to and did convey the Disputed Area as part of Lot C in the December 4 Deed. The metes and bounds description is incorrect and contains several scrivener's errors that erroneously carved the Disputed Area out of Lot C. Specifically, the first "easterly" bound and first "southerly" bound contained incorrect distances, and two bounds were omitted completely. A "northerly" bound of 40.00 feet and an "easterly" bound of 70.13 feet should have been included. The correct metes and bounds description would have depicted Lot C as shown on the Plan and included the Disputed Area. The discrepancy between the metes and bounds description and the Plan has been carried over in all subsequent conveyances of Lot C: beginning with Raymond N. Pike's conveyance to the Koreys in 1979; from the Koreys to the Norfolk District Attorney's Office in 1992; and from the District Attorney's Office to the Cellinis in 1992. It was not until 1999, when the Cellinis refinanced their mortgage loan that the discrepancy was corrected by Attorney Shawn Reilly, who conformed the mortgage description so as to include the Disputed Area by referencing Lot C, as shown on the Plan, consistent with his resolution of the discrepancy and conclusion of what the Cellinis in fact owned under the December 4 Deed.
When a deed expressly refers to a plan as part of the description of land conveyed, the particulars of the plan "are to be regarded as if they had been fully set forth in the deed." Murdock v. Chapman, 75 Mass. 156 (1857). This rule reflects the principle that a plan referred to in a deed becomes part of the contract so far as may be necessary to aid in the identification of the lots and to determine the rights intended to be conveyed. Labounty v. Vickers, 352 Mass. 337 , 344 (1967); Goldstein v. Beal, 317 Mass. 750 , 754 (1945); Boston Water Power Co. v. Boston, 127 Mass. 374 , 376 (1879). Generally, where there is a discrepancy between the description contained in a deed and the lines set forth on a plan referenced in the deed, the plan controls. Magoun v. Lapham, 21 Pick. 135 , 137138 (1838).
The Hugheys owned Lot C, including the Disputed Area, in 1957. On the Plan, Lot C is depicted as one undivided parcel, with no divisions or portions excluded. The Hugheys refer to the Plan in the December 4 Deed when describing the property they intended to convey. Agreeing with the Cellinis' expert, this court finds that the Hugheys intended to convey Lot C. It is improbable that the Hugheys intended to intentionally retain the Disputed Area as a separate parcel, especially in light of the Hugheys' attempt to resolve any ambiguity the very next day, by executing the December 5 Deed, purporting to convey the Disputed Area to the same grantee, Raymond N. Pike. See Ryan v. Stavros, 348 Mass. 251 , 259 (1964) (stating a court may consider the improbability that a grantor who conveyed all adjoining land would retain a useless portion). The reference to the Plan in the December 4 Deed, together with the unnecessary attempt to fix any discrepancy in the December 4 Deed with the subsequent conveyance in the December 5 Deed, supports this court's inference that the Hugheys intended to convey Lot C (including the Disputed Area) to Raymond N. Pike as one undivided parcel.
The Blakemans argue that the Plan does not depict Lot C as an undivided parcel, and point to a dashed line separating the bulk of Lot C from the Disputed Area. On the Plan, the Disputed Area is labeled "40 ft Water Easement." Plaintiffs, however, claim the dashed line represents a lot line, delineating the Disputed Area as a separate lot from Lot C. They also point to the two "d. h." notations at the southeastern and southwestern corners of the Disputed Area, representing drill holes, as evidence that the Disputed Area is depicted as a separate lot on the Plan. In support of the Blakemans' claim, their surveying expert, Charles Budnick, opined that the dashed line on the Plan is ambiguous and is indicative of both the easement boundary as well as the lot line, while the drill holes represent the type of artificial monuments used to mark lot boundary lines. Mr. Budnick, however, also admitted that drill holes may be used to delineate an easement boundary. The fact that the Hugheys conveyed the Disputed Area as a separate parcel the day after they had conveyed Lot C, both to Raymond N. Pike, does not, as the Blakemans would have it, support an inference that the Disputed Area was in fact a separate parcel. Rather, it supports the inference that the Hugheys had meant to convey the Disputed Area to Mr. Pike as part of Lot C, and were not sure they had, due to the internal inconsistency in the December 4 Deed. Consistently, there was no consideration for the December 5 Deed, according to its terms.
The court's view of the boundaries of Lot C is supported by the testimony of the Cellinis' expert, Robert Buckley. Mr. Buckley opined that the dashed line along the westerly edge of the Disputed Area on the Plan represents the boundary of the easement rather than a lot line between the Disputed Area and Lot C. He reasoned, in part, that it would be internally inconsistent to represent all lot boundaries on the Plan as solid lines, except for that particular one. Additionally, he stated easements are typically shown in a different manner than a lot line, such as a dotted or dashed line, to make that distinction clear. He also pointed out that the Disputed Area was shown as a water easement, and had the parties meant it to be a separate parcel, it likely would have been depicted as a Lot by a letter designation. Although an area description in a deed generally takes the lowest priority in the interpretation of a deed, Mr. Buckley also noted that the area of Lot C is described in the December 4 Deed as containing 82,479 square feet. This area corresponds to the total area of Lot C, including the Disputed Area, as shown on the Plan. This lends further and consistent support for the inference that the entirety of Lot C was intended to be conveyed by the Hugheys to Raymond N. Pike in the December 4 Deed.
II. The Trustee of The Raymond N. Pike Revocable Trust Agreement Had No Rights In The Disputed Area When It Purported To Convey It To Plaintiffs in 2011
On November 16, 2011, Raymond N. Pike, Jr., as Trustee of the Raymond N. Pike Revocable Trust Agreement, executed a quitclaim deed purporting to convey the Disputed Area to the Blakemans. A quitclaim deed is sufficient to convey all of a grantor's right, title and interest in and to a property described in the deed. G. L. c. 183, § 2. As discussed above, however, the Disputed Area had already been conveyed as part of Lot C on June 1, 1979, in the Pike Deed, from Raymond N. Pike (Sr.) to the Koreys. The Pike Trust therefore had no rights in the Disputed Area to convey to the Blakemans in 2011. [Note 6] This is consistent with the absence of the Disputed Area from Raymond N. Pike's probate inventory.
This court finds that Raymond N. Pike's initial conveyance to the Koreys in 1979, using the same description as that in the December 4 Deed, was a transfer of the entirety of Lot C, including the Disputed Area, thereby divesting Raymond N. Pike (and his heirs) from any interest in the Disputed Area. The December 5 Deed did not create a second chain of title, as the entirety of Lot C had already been conveyed. Lot C, including the Disputed Area, was subsequently transferred from the Koreys to the Norfolk District Attorney's Office, which transferred it to the Cellinis, who hold title free and clear of any interest of the Blakemans.
Judgment to enter accordingly.
[Note 1] At trial, the parties represented that the counterclaim for adverse possession was no longer in issue and there was no evidence presented regarding adverse possession.
[Note 2] Plaintiffs had moved to dismiss the try-title count of Defendants' counterclaim, but after the parties agreed to treat the case as one for declaratory relief, Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss was rendered moot.
[Note 3] All recording references are to this Registry.
[Note 4] A copy of the Plan, which is trial Exhibit 3, is attached to this decision as Sketch A.
[Note 5] The title of the Plan as referenced in the Deed differs slightly from the title shown on the Plan.
[Note 6] Because the court finds that the Pike Trust had no right, title or interest in the Disputed Area to convey in 2011, it need not reach Defendants' assertion that Raymond N. Pike, Jr., as Trustee for the Raymond N. Pike Revocable Trust Agreement, lacked authority to convey any property on behalf of the Trust, or that Plaintiffs failed to prove that Raymond N. Pike, Sr. ever conveyed his interest to the Trust.