Wednesday, December 13, 2006 4:07 PM CST
WILLIAMSON – A six-person jury has awarded a Meador couple punitive and compensatory damages after finding that a Virginia-based land company involved in a property dispute with the couple acted with gross fraud, malice, oppression, wanton, willful and reckless conduct, and/or criminal indifference.
The conflict, which had been ongoing for more than two years, involved an approximate 1/2 acre of land located at Mate Creek and Double Camp Fork in the Magnolia district.
The civil trial lasted four days in the case which was styled Pocahontas Land Corporation versus Roby and Barbara Chafin.
During court proceedings it was determined that the land in question had been in the Chafin’s family since 1945.
Following the trial, the jury found that Pocahontas Land Corporation had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the land company was the owner of record of the disputed land.
However, the jury found that Roby and Barbara Chafin had established that their deed and the survey done by John Messerian demonstrated they were the owners of the land. In fact, the jury found they had established adverse possession of the property at issue by clear and convincing evidence.
The jurors also found that Pocahontas Land had trespassed and allowed others to trespass on the land belonging to the Chafins.
Because of this finding, the jury awarded the couple $125,000 in compensatory damages.
This compensation was for the loss of use of the property, including any and all annoyances, inconvenience or aggravation suffered by the couple.
In addition, the couple was awarded $75,000 in punitive damages because the jurors felt that the land company had acted with gross fraud, malice, oppression, wanton, willful and/or reckless conduct or criminal indifference to civil obligations affecting the Chafins’ rights.
Attorney Howard Persinger represented the land company. Attorney Michael Clifford and Attorney Steven Wiley of Lewis, Glasser, Casey and Rollin represented the Chafins.
By AUDREY CARTER