37.0120 Adverse possession-Claim in arrest.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 37.0120]

(a) Actual, open, notorious, hostile, exclusive and continuous occupancy of real estate for 30 years confers a title thereto by adverse possession, which is sufficient against all.

(b) Any person claiming title to land in the occupation of another may state in writing such claim and file the same with the Territorial Registrar. Such claim, when so filed, shall arrest the running of the statutory period governing acquisition of title by adverse possession.

History: 1962. PL, 7-31; 1968, PL, l0-68; readopted 1980, PL 16-88 §§ 1,2; 1982, PL, 17-31 §§ 1,2.

Case Notes:

Claim of title to land by either original occupancy or adverse possession is inconsistent. Atualevao v. Talio, ASR (1978). Seipua v. Mageo. ASR (1978).

If true owner is on the land, another person who is on the land has not only no adverse possession, but no possession whatsoever. Iaoa v. Vele. ASR (1977).

Statute provides that actual, open. noistrious. hostile, exclusive and continuous occupancy of land for 20 years will bar action for recovery of real property and confer tide by adverse possession sufficient against all. RCAS 100115. Lob v. Hens of Sekio. 4 ASR 477 (1964)

Actual, open, notorious, hostile, exclusive and continuous occupancy of portion of land for more than 20 years confers title by adverse possession. RCAS 100115 Fau v. Wilson, 4 ASR 443 (1964).

Adverse possession for 20 years confers title “which is sufficient against all.” RCAS 10.0115. Laeli v. Moetoto, 4 ASR 494 (1964).

Statutory period governing acquisition of title by adverse possession is 20 years and effect of running of period is to vest title in adverse possessor. RCAS 10 0115 Lualemana v. Chiefs of Aitulagi, 4 ASR 383 (1963).

The only ways communal land can become individual land are by adverse possession for thirty years or by compliance with the statutory procedures for alienation of communal land, including the approval of the Land Commission and the Governor. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0120, 37.0201 et seq. Ava v. Logoai, 19 A.S.R.2d 75 (1991).

Land owned by ASG is not subject to acquisition by adverse possession, because the statute of limitations for adverse possession does not run against the government. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Anderson v. Vaivao, 21 A.S.R.2d 95 (1992).

Since many Samoan families allow other families to live on their land, “hostile” possession within the meaning of territorial statute allowing acquisition of land by adverse possession must be proved by evidence of acts unequivocally inconsistent with the ownership of the land by another family. A.S.C.A. 37.0120. Sialega v. Taito (Mem.), 3 A.S.R.2d 40 (1986).

A family which has occupied a tract of land for at least thirty years, and which has on many occasions acted as the owner of the land in ways that were utterly inconsistent with the claim of another family, has acquired the land by adverse possession even if it had not done so by original occupancy. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Sialega v. Taito, 3 A.S.R.2d 78 (1986).

Widow who was neither a blood member of her late husband’s family nor analogous in any way to a member of the family, and whose possession of land was open, notorious, and clearly hostile to the competing claim of the husband’s family, could acquire the land by adverse possession. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Puailoa v. Estate of Lagafuaina, 11 A.S.R.2d 54 (1989).

Limitation of actions and averse possession, while facts giving rise to them are usually intertwined, are separate laws and may sometimes depend on different facts. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0120, 43.0120(6). Roberts v. Sesepasara, 8 A.S.R.2d 43 (1988).

Purchaser’s possession of land as lessee prior to her purchase might count toward thirty-year period for adverse possession, but did not prevent the purchase from giving rise to a new cause of action for the purpose of twenty-year statute of limitations. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0120, 43.0120(6). Roberts v. Sesepasara, 8 A.S.R.2d 43 (1988).

Even if plaintiff family once had plantations on disputed land, defendant family would have become owner by virtue of open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and hostile occupation of the land for twenty years under the adverse possession statute then in effect. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120 (prior to 1982 amendment). Leomiti v. Toluao, 11 A.S.R.2d 49 (1989).

Actual, open, notorious, hostile, exclusive and continuous occupancy of real estate for 30 years confers a title thereto by adverse possession which is sufficient against all. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120(a). Vaivao v. Craddick, 14 A.S.R.2d 108 (1990).

Because the adverse possession statute was amended in 1962 to change the prescriptive period from twenty years to thirty years, occupancy beginning later than the effective date of the 1962 amendment, which has been interrupted, or which has not been exclusive at any time since 1962 must meet the thirty-year requirement in order to acquire title by adverse possession. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Willis v. Fai’ivae, 17 A.S.R.2d 38 (1990).

Once the registered owner of land has shown that the area in controversy is the same land previously registered, the burden then shifts to the challenger, who can only prevail by showing that his family subsequently acquired the land by deed from record owners or by adverse possession. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Avegalio v. Leatumauga, 18 A.S.R.2d 9 (1991).

Acquiring land by adverse possession requires possession which is exclusive, continuous, open, notorious, and hostile to anyone else’s claim of ownership for the statutory period. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Magalei v. Atualevao, 19 A.S.R.2d 86 (1991).

Because land can be owned communally in American Samoa, a communal family may obtain title to land through adverse possession. A.S.C.A. § 37.0120. Anderson v. Vaivao, 21 A.S.R.2d 95 (1992).