Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Dearie, Fischer & Mathews, LLC, John A. Fischer, for
Surdyk, Dowd & Turner Co., LPA, Jeffrey C. Turner, Dawn
M. Frick, for appellees.
1} Plaintiffs, Daniel Sandfoss, Mary Rutterer,
Barbara Reimer, James Cook, and Aleta Cook (collectively,
"Plaintiffs"), appeal from a decision of the Warren
County Court of Common Pleas, which granted summary judgment
in favor of defendant-appellee, the village of Morrow, Ohio
("Morrow"). For the reasons discussed below, this
court affirms the trial court decision.
2} In July 2016, Plaintiffs sued defendant Clinton
County Trails Coalition ("Coalition"). The
complaint asserted a claim to quiet title to certain real
property owned by Coalition ("subject property").
Plaintiffs claimed the subject property was part of an old
railway easement that traversed their respective properties.
Plaintiffs further alleged that Coalition had received its
interest in the subject property by quitclaim deed from a
railroad company. That deed had purported to transfer the
former railroad corridor to Coalition in fee simple.
Plaintiffs alleged that, at best, the railroad company had
transferred an easement, which easement was earlier abandoned
by the railroad company.
3} Plaintiffs asked the court to terminate the
easement and revert title of the subject property to them.
Plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint adding
Morrow as a party defendant after Coalition moved to dismiss
on the basis that it had sold the subject property to Morrow.
The court thereafter dismissed Coalition from the case.
4} In answering the complaint, Morrow pled that it
held the subject property in fee simple. After both sides
completed discovery, the parties filed competing motions for
5} The summary judgment evidence indicated that
Coalition purchased the subject property in 1993 from Penn
Central Corporation ("Penn"). The subject property
was part of a former railway corridor. Coalition paid Penn
$47, 000 and Penn provided Coalition with a quitclaim deed,
which transferred a fee simple interest. The deed or other
records that would demonstrate how Penn acquired its interest
in the railway apparently could not be located and therefore
were not presented in evidence.
6} Coalition purchased the land with the intent of
making it a public trail but ultimately did not build the
trail for various reasons. Coalition then sold the tract to
Morrow. In the course of that transaction, Morrow received an
attorney's certificate of title, which certified that
"the fee simple title to said premises is vested in
[Coalition]* * *" The attorney further certified that
the title was marketable and free from encumbrances.
7} The court issued its decision denying
Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. With respect to
the Sandfoss/Rutterer and Cook properties, the court found
that the subject property did not enter those properties and
those plaintiffs had not established any other ownership
interest in the subject property.  The court found that the
evidence indicated that the subject property ran through the
Reimer property, but that Reimer also had failed to establish
that she held any title to the subject property.
Additionally, the court found that Plaintiffs had not shown
that Penn held the subject property as an easement and
concluded that there were no genuine issues of fact for
trial. Accordingly, the court denied Plaintiffs' motion
for summary judgment. On the same basis, the court granted
Morrow's motion for summary judgment as to
8} Plaintiffs appeal, raising two assignments of
9} Assignment of Error No. 1:
10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY GRANTING MORROW'S