Does any one here know of a successful prosecution for destruction of a survey monument?Posted by dmyhill on November 4, 2019 at 7:05 pm
Enforcing RCW 58.04.015 and 17.40.020 (Washington State)
I am a surveyor and post here occasionally, but my client’s neighbor pulled out the rebar and caps that we set last week. He called the cops and recited these laws, and basically got a blank stare from the police. They have never enforced it, and aren’t sure how to go about it.
(I don’t think it is that hard, you write a citation and write down the law that got broken, hand it to the guy and let the prosecutor deal with it.)
But, it raised a question I have for surveyors…many states have laws like this. Does any one here know of a successful prosecution for destruction of a survey monument?
- 55 Replies
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 7:35 pm
I would think that a picture or video of the neighbor actually removing or destroying it would be crucial toward any prosecutor taking on this case. Hearsay is not going to be enough evidence. If this type if evidence exists, contact the local prosecuting attorney and see what they say.
I am not familiar with the 17.40.020 reference.
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 7:38 pm
I remember reading once; that an engineer lost his license because he didn’t provide for replacement of monuments destroyed on a project he designed. But I can’t find it right now…
As for your client, it’s going to be tough to get the neighbor to pay: does he have solid proof that the neighbor pulled the corner? If he does, then he’ll need to hire someone to replace it and then hire an attorney to sue him for these expenses.
I don’t know of anyone going through all of this; let alone successfully prosecuted. But you might contact Bob Zierman and see what he has to say.
Good Luck! and let us know what you find out… ????I hope everyone has a great day; I know I will!
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 7:53 pm
Just curious. I told my client that if they care they need to move to civil courts, and they know that. They were just asking if I knew of any jurisdiction that had proceeded on this. The police and city are apparently willing (the guy is blocking fire access), but it is uncharted territory.-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 8:41 pm
I would think the State Board would enforce this law more than the local police. I don’t think a Judge would get re-elected in my area if they fine a landowner for pulling a monument on their property. Maybe a monument on public land.
Double rod the corner when you reset it, drive your normal rod in the ground, then a shorter rod right on top of it. They will pull the shorter rod, but they wont know about the one under it.
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 9:06 pm
I had a situation once where the neighbor pulled all the bars we set along the line. He ended up getting away with it.
My client had been given a deed saying he was obtaining something like the east half of the north half of the northwest quarter of the section. That is the line I monumented. The neighbor pulled all the bars we set. This battle went to court. The seller who had sold to my buyer and also to the neighbor testified on behalf of the neighbor. He declared that he had had a deed drawn up with the words I listed above BUT he had told the buyer (my client) what you really get is from up there on the north, down to here, across this pond dam to the other side, then up to there on the south. He said he had made it clear that was what the buyer was to get no matter what the deed said. The buyer, not knowing anything about deeds, said OK. A couple years later he thought the neighbor was using some of his ground so he had me locate the line based on the deed. The judge decided the neighbor actually owned to the made up series of lines as testified to by the seller to both parties rather than to what their deeds said they owned. There were no fences or other clear signs of where the property split might be.
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 10:22 pm
Good idea about the two rods. The state board has no jurisdiction here. And that is interesting about the judge…if your neighbor paid for a survey and you pulled the corner, I would think you caused loss. But, not my judgement to make.-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberNovember 4, 2019 at 11:56 pm
Wow! I was just on a trial where the Developer testified he set the monuments that we were disputing and told the buyer that was where his property was. The monuments are over 100 feet away from where the deeds describe. The Judge hasn’t issued a decision yet. This could be very interesting.
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 12:15 am
I agree about two markers or at least a difficult one to pull – in these cases I have set a forming pin with the holes in it and put nails in every hole – when driven in it catches the ground and they fit a 5/8 cap pretty good – you could also use a large pipe and make the holes for the cross pins, if the ground is softer
Bernstein makes a system that has wire coils that are driven out of the bottom locking the pin in place – they work great as I used some for a monitoring project – the driving kit is about $140 and the pin is $20
Once the Survey record is filed, try explaining that the mark just perpetuates the official survey, they might not try to pull the marker again
the more effort put in will be rewarded – maybe even set more markers along the line below grade too
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 3:19 am
The written deed holds over parole evidence…or why have a written deed? Am I wrong there? Isn’t the whole statute of frauds idea about just that?
The judge must have believed that the buyer agreed to the spoken interpretation of the deed at the time of the sale? (I assume that is the key fact here.)-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 3:23 am
Pulling corners is silly. Might as well stick your head in the sand. I will have a map with calls to every little thing along the line, so it won’t matter. I would have laughed if it was my neighbor…and poured a concrete monument at 10 at night just for fun.-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 6:08 am
My pin and plat was the subject of three lawsuits from 2005 to 2009. In one, Hawley v mowatt the jury found and the court ruled that where I had placed my pin constitutes the property corner regardless of the fact that the neighbor moved it 5 feet to add room on his 3 story addition, and, very interestingly, despite two other surveyors claiming that because of their better calculations one thought it should move 0.3 feet and another thought it should move 0.9 feet, (touchscreen corners) so my client the plaintiff won the lawsuit and my monument prevailed because it was the first set in the pincushions, even though I was not the original subdivided.
This summer a neighbor pulled my pin and the client filed a sheriff’s report, but don’t think it went any furthet
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 10:53 am
When a deed says all the same property as conveyed to Joe Smoe, all that same property is transfered to the next owner no matter where the seller or realtor points out where the limits are.
Many times I have seen where one of them had to purchase land they sold they did not own yet they pointed it out as being what they were selling.
Fraud is real and is costly.
Not many DAs will prosecute people that pull monuments. It takes undeniable evidence and witness to testify and pictures or film of very good quality that clearly identify the guilty party.
Even a verbal admission of guilt gets very little attention.
Law enforcement barely actually know the law. They rely upon what they are told to do by their local system. Unless you find some way to grease their palms with blood money, you will be ignored.
Judges make wrong decisions all the time and make stuff up to get it out of their court. If you are serious about getting the laws enforced, expect to spend a small fortune until you find yourself in superior court or Supreme Court and get a correct application of the law and it takes time, money aND a dependable Attorney. Too many lawyers only look at the number of billable hours before they become interested in taking the case.
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm
All the original parties agreed the deed didn’t say what they agreed on. So the deed can be “reformed”. Cow’s client is apparently an honest person. If other interests had intervened it wouldn’t work out that way (such as a lender with a mortgage on one of the parcels).
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 2:14 pm
I agree with you on the neighbor should be fined for pulling the corner, that someone else paid for and uses, but I dont think the law is enforced for pulling property corners. If they did the State would be rich from the fines coming from fence builders, and plumbers.
- MemberNovember 5, 2019 at 2:15 pm
One way to encourage prosecution in such a case is for surveyors to charge enough for the monument that stealing it is a felony. The corner may be common but the monument is personal property belonging to the one who paid to have it set. In order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public I’m going to look up the felony threshold and charge at least that per monument, itemized on the invoice. Optional (for additional charge) will be embedded GPS tracker to help find the thief.
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