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Case Style: Raymond Nicol and Michele Fitzgerald v. Newton
Case Number: Unknown
Court: Superior Court, Rockingham, New Hampshire
Bill Scott of Donahue, Tucker and Ciandella, Exeter, New Hampshire
Farm owners claimed that railroad right of way through their property belonged to them and not the City of Newton which bought the right-of-way from the Boston and Maine Corporation in 1978. The City turned the right-of-way into the Peanut Trail which is used as a used as a recreation trail by local residents. Nicol and Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit because users of the recreational trail, including snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders, stray off the trail and damage the Nicol’s hay fields, destroy their crops and vandalize farm equipment. The plaintiffs argued that they owned the land and that they let residents use it, while representatives of the town argued that the town bought the abandoned railroad bed in 1978 from the Boston and Maine Corporation, an old railroad company.
The plaintiffs argued that they are the rightful owners of the property because the Boston and Maine Corporation never owned the property and therefore couldn’t sell it to the town. They further asserted that the town simply bought an easement to the property.
Plaintiff's Experts: Unavailable
Defendant's Experts: Unavailable
Comments: Editor's Note: There has been quite a lot of litigation across the United States relating the property rights of owners of land abutting abandoned railroad rights-of-way. In many instances, the railroads obtained only easements and upon abandonment, the right-of-way reverted to the abutting owners who always owned the underlying fee simple.