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08/26/94 NATHANIEL BRUCE JONES AND FLORENCE C.

August 26, 1994

NATHANIEL BRUCE JONES AND FLORENCE C. JONES
v.
JAMES L. LANE



Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court. (CV-92-1967). Charles Price, TRIAL JUDGE.

Rehearing Denied September 30, 1994. Rehearing Denied August 18, 1995. Released for Publication March 2, 1996.

Holmes

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Holmes

HOLMES, Retired Appellate Judge

James L. Lane filed a complaint, requesting that the trial court determine whether Nathaniel Bruce Jones and Florence C. Jones have any interest in a certain 6.17 acres of land located in Montgomery County, Alabama, and described in the complaint.

We would note that the dispute between Lane and the Joneses involves only 1.1 acres of the land. The remaining acreage is not adjacent to the land owned by the Joneses. Lane also requested that the trial court determine that the property could not be equitably divided and that the trial court issue an order, requiring that the property be sold and the proceeds of the sale be divided and distributed among the joint owners.

The case was tried without a jury. The trial court issued an order, which provided in pertinent part:

"[The Joneses] own no interest in the property in question, i.e., that portion of the abandoned railroad right-of-way easement which lies adjacent to their property and to which they have filed a claim of ownership.

"Upon consideration of this matter, the court is of the opinion that [Lane] is entitled to the relief prayed for in [his] complaint."

The Joneses filed a motion for a new trial. After a hearing, the motion was denied.

The Joneses appeal. This case is before this court pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 12-2-7(6).

The issue which was before the trial court and which is before this court is whether the Joneses have an interest in the railroad right-of-way easement which runs along the north boundary line of their property.

At trial Lane contended that the original owner/grantor reserved unto himself the railroad right-of-way easement and that when the railroad abandoned the right-of-way easement, it reverted to the heirs of the original owner/grantor. We would note that Lane was not claiming ownership of the right-of-way easement because he was an adjoining landowner, but because he had acquired an interest in the right-of-way easement from one of the heirs of the original owner/grantor.

At trial the Joneses contended that they own the south half of the right-of-way because there is a presumption in Alabama that upon the abandonment of a railroad right-of-way, the abutting landowners absorb the abandoned right-of-way to the center line thereof, unless it is ...


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