Timothy Fowler appeals the trial court's order adopting the special master's report in this condemnation action. For reasons that follow, we affirm.
An abandoned railroad right-of-way in Warm Springs has been the subject of several lawsuits and appeals. 1
The present appeal arises out of a condemnation action filed by the City of Warm Springs ("the City"), which petitioned to condemn a portion of that right-of-way ("the property") in August 1997. Fowler, who owned land adjoining part of the right-of-way, answered the condemnation petition, claiming prescriptive title to the property through adverse possession.
The trial court appointed a special master to hear evidence regarding the property. 2
Following a hearing, the special master rejected Fowler's adverse possession claim and determined that the City already held title to the property, obviating any monetary award. 3
Less than ten days later, the trial court adopted the special master's report. Fowler appealed, claiming, among other things, that the trial court erred in adopting that report before the ten-day period for filing objections expired. 4
We agreed, reversed the judgment, and remanded with instructions that the parties be allowed to file objections to the special master's report. 5
On remand, Fowler filed numerous objections, raising procedural and substantive arguments. After a hearing, the trial court overruled Fowler's objections and again adopted the special master's report. Fowler now appeals the trial court's ruling.
1. Fowler first argues that he, rather than the City, owns title to the property. According to Fowler, he is the only landowner adjacent to the portion of the abandoned right-of-way at issue. He contends, therefore, that under Johnson & Co. v. Arnold, 6
fee simple in that part of the right-of-way vested in him when he took title to the adjoining property.
Fowler has not pointed to any evidence that he raised this argument before the special master. In his answer to the City's condemnation petition, Fowler claimed title through adverse possession, rather than conveyance. The record does not include a transcript of the special master's hearing, leaving us in the dark as to issues that might have been raised orally. At the hearing before the trial court, however, Fowler did not claim that he presented this argument to the special master. Instead, he asserted that the special master had a duty to ferret out and rule upon all potential issues that the parties could have raised, even if they failed to do so.
We disagree. As discussed in Fowler's prior appeal, claims forming the basis for exceptions to a special master's award "must first have been raised and ruled on by the special master himself and preserved on a record which the trial court could have examined." 7
The record contains no evidence that Fowler argued before the special master that ownership in the property at issue vested in him when he took title to the adjacent land. Thus, "[b]ecause Fowler failed . . . to raise [this claim of title] before the special master or to preserve a record of such, he has waived appellate review of [it]." 8
2. In his second and third enumerations of error, Fowler argues that procedural and jurisdictional defects plagued the special master proceeding, demanding reversal. Specifically, he claims that the City neglected to comply with service requirements and that the special master's hearing was improperly continued. He further argues that the special master and the trial court lacked jurisdiction in this condemnation proceeding to determine title to the property.
Fowler raised these same arguments during his prior appeal in this case, and we decided each adversely to him. 9
We found that he failed to preserve for review his procedural arguments relating to service and timeliness of the special master's hearing. 10
In addition, we rejected his jurisdictional claim, concluding that "the special master and the [trial] court have the power to determine who has an interest in the property and what that interest is." 11
These rulings are binding on Fowler, and he cannot relitigate the issues. 12
Accordingly, Fowler's second and third enumerations of error present no basis for reversal.
Tyron C. Elliott, for appellee.