- Alabama Boundary Law: Two-Day Seminar
- Boundary Dispute Resolution: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Boundary Surveyor: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- How to Make a Boundary Determination that Will Win in Court: Full-Day (or Half Day)
- Property Rights and the Land Surveyor: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Retracement and the 1973 Manual: Full-Day (or Half-Day))
- Retracement and the 2009 Manual: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Survey Evidence and Procedure: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- The Pincushion Effect (The Multiple Monument Dilemma): Full-Day (Recommended)
- What Went Wrong? (A Study in Surveyor Errors and Omissions): Full-Day (or Half-Day)
BUSINESS and BUSINESS PRACTICES LIBRARY
- Better Business Practices and the Law: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Contracts for Land Surveyors: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Engineer and Land Surveyor Liability: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Ethics for Land Surveyors and Engineers: Half-Day (One to Four Hours)
- Going Solo: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Relevancy in the 21st Century: Full-Day (or Half-Day)*
- Torts and the Land Surveyor: Full-Day (or Half-Day) *
- What Went Wrong? (A Study in Surveyor Errors and Omissions): Full-Day (or Half-Day)
COURT and EXPERT WITNESS LIBRARY
- Expert Witness Testimony: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Land Surveyor in Court (Surviving and Thriving in Court): Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Mock Trial and Land Surveyor in Court: Full-Day
EASEMENTS, LEGAL and EMINENT DOMAIN LIBRARY
- Eminent Domain (The State’s Taking Power): Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Law of Easements: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Legal Descriptions & Conveyances: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Legal Research and the Land Surveyor: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Marketable Record Title Act: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- 2011 ALTA/ACSM STANDARDS: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
- Alabama Standards of Practice: 6 Hours
- Mississippi Standards of Practice: 1 Hour
WATER BOUNDARY LIBRARY
- Water Boundaries: Full-Day (or Half-Day)
Full-Day – A full day can be anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, depending on the host’s conference format. Most of the seminar presentations can be shortened to a half-day format by removing case studies to shorten the length of the presentation. The core subject matter is left in-tact.
Half-Day – A half day is assumed to be no more than 4 hours.
* This is a NEW seminar
Last Revision: May, 2012
BOUNDARY & BOUNDARY LAW LIBRARY
This course is, in essence, an overview of the law of boundaries in the State of Alabama. ASPLS’s new boundary law book, Alabama Boundary Law, will be the source for this seminar that will review, chapter by chapter, the book and the legal concepts contained within. This seminar will cover the legal concepts that most affect the land surveyor practicing in the State of Alabama. Everything from the land surveyor’s duties and responsibilities, surveyor liability, deeds and conveyances, boundary establishment doctrines, the PLSS, easements, and water boundaries will be discussed, and more. The book is a comprehensive study of all of these areas of the law and the seminar is a detailed introduction to the book. It is suggested that the seminar participants bring their own copy of the book. Power Point presentation.
Many surveyors see themselves as “expert measurers” not “expert evaluators of evidence.” But in truth, this is the surveyor’s role: To form an opinion as to where the surveyor feels the boundary lines would be located if fully adjudicated in a court of law. This can only be done by proper interpretation of the deeds, gathered the best available evidence relevant to the proper location of the boundary between the coterminous landowners involved, evaluating that evidence, and making a decision as to the true location of the boundary line. These decisions, however, must be legally sound. The principles of law used by the courts when dealing with conflicts in boundaries will be studied. This seminar will also explore effective ways of resolving these conflicts before they become full blown boundary disputes with resulting litigation. Power Point presentation.
This seminar is designed to take a look at the duties and responsibilities of the boundary surveyor. How those duties and responsibilities have been described in the past, and are they different today and will they be different in the future. Recent court cases indicate that the boundary surveyor’s duties and responsibilities, like the law, are ever changing and evolving. Along with these changes has come increased liability for the boundary surveyor. Today, surveyors are being sued and held liable for incorrect boundary determinations. In addition, surveyors are being sued for torts that they commit along the way. Once it was considered good practice to stake the clients deed and “let the chips fall where they may.” In the modern day boundary dispute case, this practice is more likely to start a boundary dispute as resolve one and when the chips fall the surveyor is quite likely to have to account for his fair share of them. Power Point presentation.
What are the important issues to know and understand in order to make a boundary determination that will win in court, should you find yourself in court defending your map of survey and your opinion on the location of the property boundaries involved? What is the evidence standard that will be applied, the standard of care for professional surveyors in court, and what is the criterion for boundary determinations? This course studies the relevant evidence standards, different types of evidence, the standard of care, and explores the process of rendering a well-reasoned opinion on the only question that is within the purview of the retracing surveyor—the location question. The importance of deeds in and the role they have in boundary determination, the interpretation of deeds, finding intent, and how and when the boundary establishment doctrines come into play. The “Ultimate Issue Rule” will be discussed and its importance relative boundary determinations and liability. If you eventually find yourself in court over a boundary dispute, losing in court is not an option. The boundary surveyor who has rendered a well-reasoned opinion on the boundaries based on the law and the facts, is in a much better position to win in court than the surveyor who simply applied math and measurements as taken from a deed. Power Point Presentation.
What are real property rights and where do they come from? Should the land surveyor concern himself/herself with property rights? How have the courts reacted to the issue of property rights and the land surveyor? This seminar will be examined these questions and many other related topics. Subjects to be covered include: Torts that can impact property rights, written conveyances, deed interpretation, unwritten rights, junior & senior rights, adverse possession, estoppel, and more. These issues will be covered through court opinions from across the country. In addition to examining the problems associated with property rights, common solutions for the most common problems will be explored. Resolving conflicts in boundaries should be a high priority for any practicing boundary surveyor concerned with the property rights of the client and adjoining property owners. Power Point presentation.
There is much confusion in the surveying community with regard to the land surveyor’s duties and responsibilities towards boundaries. Nowhere is this confusion more profound than in the interpretation of the Bureau of Land Management’s 1973 Manual of Surveying Instructions (the “Manual”). If there is one document surveyors think they know and understand, it’s the Manual. Yet case after case indicates that just the opposite is true. Chapter III, The System of Rectangular Surveys, Chapter V, Lost and Obliterated Corners, and Chapter VI, Resurveys, will be studied extensively to find out what the Manual really says with regard to the surveyor’s duties and responsibilities. Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) cases will be studied that flesh out the principles being studied. Other civil cases will also be studied on the interpretation of this important document. Power Point presentation.
Is the Manual relevant to your practice? Perhaps we will answer that question once and for all. The “next edition” of the Manual is out; that is the Manual of Surveying Instructions 2009 (2009 Manual), which effectively replaces the previous 1973 edition of the Manual. This seminar will explore those chapters that are most relevant to the land surveyor in private practice who must deal with the system of rectangular surveys, most commonly referred to as the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). The 2009 Manual gives expanded treatment of the duties and responsibilities of the local surveyor who was to subdivide the sections into their aliquot parts and the good faith efforts of the original entryman in finding his claim on the ground. The new Manual also corrects over 100 years of misinterpretation of the evidence standards applicable to corners within the system, but does it also introduce new confusion? Original surveys and retracement surveys will be discussed under the instructions of the Manual. Power Point presentation.
There is a line of thinking within and without the surveying community that goes something like this: The surveyor’s only role is to deal with the facts as contained in the client’s deed; all other issues with regard to boundaries can only be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction. The obvious problem with this line of thinking is that, if this is truly the case, society does not need land surveyors. Boundary determinations boil down to two questions: A question of law and a question of fact. “The question of what is a boundary line is a matter of law, but the question of where a boundary line, or a corner, is actually located is a question of fact.” Walleigh v. Emery, (Pa.Super.Court. 1960). This seminar will explore both of the questions fully, as well as the topics of evidence and procedures for the determination of a well-reasoned opinion on boundaries. State specific law will be incorporated into this seminar in the process of answering these and many other questions. Power Point presentation.
The “pincushion” corner is the name that has commonly been assigned to the phenomenon of multiple monuments that have been placed in the vicinity of a single land boundary or property corner. The pincushion corner is the bane of the land surveying profession because it represents the physical manifestation of the land surveyor’s collective confusion over his or her duties and responsibilities toward property boundaries. Within the context of the land surveyor’s duties and responsibilities toward boundaries, there is no reason for multiple monuments to exist when only one corner is contemplated under the law. This seminar explores the phenomena of the pincushion corner and the dilemma it creates for the land surveying profession. The surprising causes of the pincushion corner will be discussed and ways to avoid starting a new pincushion or adding to an existing one will be explored. Power Point presentation.
BUSINESS & BUSINESS PRACTICES LIBRARY
What do better business practices have to do with the law? Plenty! Put another way, better business practices must be in harmony with the law that affects our practice as professional service providers (land surveyors, engineers, architects, etc.). The law that most affects us as professionals is property law, contracts, negligence, torts, the common law, administrative law, and statutory enactments. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for the average citizen and even more so for professional service providers. This seminar will focus on 10 Better Business Practices that you can implement immediately to bring your practice in harmony with the law. These practical steps will benefit your company whether you are a multi-state corporation with hundreds of employees, a solo practitioner, or an individual licensee wanting to improve his or her own practice.
This course covers the basics of contract law and attendees will walk away with a one-page “Letter of Engagement” that can be utilized for most professional service offerings. Verbal, written, express and implied contracts will be studied. Short form and long form contracts, pros and cons, will be examined. Certifications, warranties and guarantees and how they apply to professional services will be discussed. Liability and limiting liability through contract language will also be studied with sample contract clauses. Examples of contract clauses to avoid, especially when the professional is asked to sign the client’s contract, will be offered and discussed. At least three court cases dealing with contract disputes will be studied. Power Point presentation.
What is your liability as a professional engineer or land surveyor? Do you have protection because you work for a large corporation? What if you are a solo-practitioner? Are you liable to third parties with whom you have no contractual relationship? Will you have to take your liability to your grave? These and other issues will be the subject of this seminar, designed to give the professional engineer and land surveyor answers to these and other important liability questions. Important doctrines of the law and courts cases will be discussed to provide these answers. Some easy steps that you can take as a professional to limit your liability will be explored. Power Point presentation.
Utilizing the Surveyor’s Creed and Canons adopted by the National Society of Professional Land Surveyors as a basis for discussion, this seminar will study ethical consideration in everyday practice. Real cases involving real surveyors will be discussed and explored for the ethical issues that they contain. Some hypothetical situations are also discussed. This seminar usually generates plenty of discussion over the case scenarios and the actions of the surveyors involved. Power Point presentation.
Of all the professions known to man, the one that could never be practiced as a true solo profession was land surveying. The land surveyor always had to someone else holding the other end of the chain. In the more modern era that second person was need to either hold the prism rod or operate the total station. Modern technology, primarily GPS and prismless instruments, have afforded the land surveyor for the first time in recorded history to operate as a true solo-practitioner. The modern technology coupled with today’s harsh business climate with vast new government regulations looming for small businesses with employees, unemployment taxes on the rise, and forced employer provided healthcare coverage for employees, the prospects of “going solo” never looked better. This seminar will explore will explore many of the practical and legal ramifications of going solo. Power Point presentation.
Will surveying remain relevant in the 21st century or are land surveyors destined to become the buggy-whip manufacturers of our time? By the way land surveying has been practiced over the last half-century, the land surveying profession has demonstrated to the general public that land surveyors are more likely to start a boundary dispute than to solve one. When all the profession has to offer their clients (and adjoining landowners) are problems with no solutions, eventually land surveyors are the problem. Pincushion corners are the physical evidence of the land surveying profession’s collective confusion over their duties and responsibilities towards property boundaries, and they have given society the idea that land surveyors don’t know what they are doing. With some of the recent actions of government officials in Texas and Florida, and talks of budget cuts in all state governments, it’s easy to see the possibility of a deregulated profession. Would the profession survive deregulations? How has the profession gotten to this point and is there a way out? This seminar explores this and many other compelling questions of our time. Power Point presentation.
Many surveyors are under the mistaken impression that they are somehow immune to prosecution. That their only responsibility is to their client and the measurements found in their client’s deed when performing boundary surveying work. A tort is “a private or civil wrong or injury, other than breach of contract, for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages.” (Black’s Law Dictionary). The rise of professional negligence as a stand-alone tort (instead of purely through contract) and the development of the legal concept that damages can be recovered for injury to property and property rights (as opposed to being recoverable for personal injury only) have combined to open new arenas of land surveyor liability under tort law. This seminar will study the primary torts that can be committed by the land surveyor and the remedies available to property owners injured by the actions of the land surveyor. Ample cases studies will be provided. Power Point presentation.
As I continue “Traversing the Law,” studying and writing about court cases involving boundary disputes and land surveyors, I have found everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. In some cases, I have to shake my head in disbelief over what I was reading leaving me with just one question: What went wrong? This seminar will investigate the answer to this question by a detailed study of several court decisions involving surveyors and surveys that went terribly wrong. The painful lessons learned by others through the school of hard knocks can be painlessly explored and appreciated without the accompanying liability and damages that attach to boundary disputes and negligence actions. These cases will be studied and discussed through a Power Point presentation.
Footnote: “Traversing the Law,” is a reference to Jeff’s regular column in P.O.B. magazine that he has been writing since 2004.
COURT & EXPERT WITNESS LIBRARY
The role of the land surveyor as expert witness will be studied and explored. The basis of this study will be the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures. Currently, 42 of the 50 states have adopted these rules as their own thereby rendering the Federal Rules highly relevant in any discussion of expert witness testimony. This seminar will go through the basics of a civil lawsuit from initial complaint, through the discovery process and the trial. The role of the expert as a witness and the testimony that the expert can give under the rules will be explored. Ten fundamental questions that every expert witness must know before testifying will be asked and answered. Four pivotal court cases on the issue of expert witness testimony will be studied and discussed. Power Point presentation.
There are the two primary ways in which the surveyor will end up in court. The surveyor may be called to be an expert witness where testimony will be given either in defense of a fellow surveyor’s work, or to help establish the standard of care that a fellow surveyor failed to meet. Or the surveyor will go to court to defend his or her on work. In either case, the surveyor must be prepared to face the challenges of testifying. This seminar will explore the world of civil litigation and the land surveyor’s role as expert witness or as defendant. The litigation process will be demystified and the rules of engagement that will be used in court will be explained. Good and bad testimony will be examined through real court cases in which surveyors testified as experts and in their own defense. Important issues of surveyor’s liability will be studied. Strategies for winning in court will be explained and strategies for avoiding court altogether, will be discussed. This seminar will teach the participants how to thrive as an expert witness and how to survive as a defendant in court. Power Point presentation.
This seminar will explore the world of civil litigation and the land surveyor’s role as an expert witness. Trial and testimony basics will be discussed in the morning, followed immediately by the mock trial. This seminar requires audience participation. Volunteers will be asked to play the roles of attorneys, landowners, lay witnesses and expert land surveyor witnesses; the seminar leader plays the judge. The remainder of the audience will be divided into jury pools, each with a foreman spokesperson. The size and number of juries will be determined by the size of the remaining audience. The trial is loosely based on a combination of several real court cases. The trial will be held and the juries will deliberate. Following deliberation, each jury will then render their verdict, and discuss their reasoning. Each jury will have to field questions from the trial participants and other juries, and defend their verdict. This seminar is designed to demystify the litigation process and explain the rules of engagement that will be used in court. Power Point presentation and scripted Mock Trial.
EASTMENTS, LEGAL & EMINENT DOMAIN LIBRARY
Many surveyors, as well as the general public, have little understanding of eminent domain and the state’s power to take private property. This seminar will study the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London that sparked the interest of legal scholars, land surveyors, and ordinary citizens. Prior court decisions leading up to the decision in Kelo will also be studied. The basics of eminent domain and the condemnation process will be studied along with basic property rights. Finally, recent developments in the law in the wake of Kelo discussed. Power Point presentation.
Real property rights will be examined, generally, and non-possessory interests created by easements will be examined specifically. The classifications and the manner in which easements are created will be studied. This will include a discussion of easements created by conveyance and easements created by other means (e.g. prescription, implication, etc.). Once the creation of easements has been established, the scope, interpretation, and the rights and obligations, of both the easements owner and the owner of the servient estate will be examined. Concepts that will be studied include dominant estate and servient estate; easement in gross and easement appurtenant; express easement and implied (non-express) easement; and “running with the land.” The termination and extinguishment of easements will wrap up the discussion. Six court cases, from across the country that exemplify and flesh out these concepts, will be examined by the participants with discussion to follow. Power Point presentation.
This seminar examines the law that applies to the conveyance of real property and the interpretation of these conveyances. A key component of any conveyance of real property is the description of the property, often referred to as the “legal description.” Fundamental issues affecting property law will be discussed through court cases and the problem of resolving conflicts between the written instrument of conveyance and the physical evidence of boundaries found on the ground will be analyzed. Monuments and the role they play in the interpretation of legal descriptions will be discussed and studied. Senior/junior rights and unwritten conveyances will be studied. Problem legal descriptions and interpretation problems will be discussed in detail. Issues affecting title and the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA) will be studied. Re-writing bad legal descriptions, pros and cons, will be discussed. At least three court cases will be studied on the issue of legal descriptions. This seminar assumes that participants are familiar with writing legal descriptions, therefore, the fundamentals of writing legal descriptions are only covered in passing. Power Point presentation.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Nowhere is this maxim truer than in the professional services arena. This seminar will explore the law, the sources of the law, and the difference between the law and equity. The court system will be studied and legal writings will be introduced. Sources for finding the law will be discussed. The legal research project will be studied from beginning to end. A live internet search will be conducted that will include finding the law on several key areas that affect surveyors in their everyday practice, including, but not limited to: liability; statutes of limitations; boundary disputes; property law; deeds and instruments of conveyance; and contracts. Participants will come away with a better understanding of the law and how it affects the professional land surveyor. Workshop Requires a Live Internet Connection for actual on-line research. Power Point presentation and live internet search.
The “Model Marketable Title Act” is the genesis for most of the “Marketable Record Title Acts” (MRTA) that have been adopted by the various states. The model act is now found in the Uniform Marketable Title Act adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law. An internet search has revealed that as many as 22 states have adopted some form of the MRTA and it would appear that many others will in the futures. What, if any, impact does the MRTA have on the boundary surveyor? Maybe more than you realize. Florida’s MRTA, one of the oldest and most court tested in the country, will be studied as a guide and an example of how the MRTA is or will impact title to property and the practice of the boundary surveyor. Several Florida cases dealing with the subject will be examined and discussed in class. Power Point presentation.
Important changes have come to the 2011 Standards that have gone relatively unnoticed by the majority of land surveyors. Most of the present attention being paid to the Standards has to do with the new certification requirements. However, even bigger changes have taken place with the new emphasis on the survey of “property” as opposed to simply a survey of a “tract” or “plat” of lands. What’s the difference? This question will be fully explored. In addition, the Standards now have an “appropriate boundary law principles” mandate. What does this mean? The difference between surveying property and surveying something else, along with all of the boundary law principles necessary to comply with the new Standards will all be discussed with relevant court cases and examples. Power Point presentation.
The Alabama Standards of practice will be studied along with relevant court cases dealing with issues associated with the standards. Surveyor’s liability and limitations on liability will be discussed. This seminar meets the requirement of 6.0 Professional Development Hours (PDH) every four years, required by the Alabama Board of Licensure for license renewal.
The Mississippi Standards of practice will be studied along with at least one relevant court case dealing with issues associated with the standards. This seminar meets the requirement of 1.0 Professional Development Hour (PDH) every two years, required by the Mississippi Board of Licensure for license renewal.
WATER BOUNDARY LIBRARY
This seminar will cover the basic concepts behind water boundaries and how those concepts affect the private practice land surveyor. The history of water boundaries will be discussed including the “equal footing” doctrine, “navigability,” “submerged lands,” “mean high tide,” “high water mark,” “low water mark,” and other issues affecting the identification and location of the boundary between the upland owner and submerged lands belonging to the sovereign. The common law and civil law rules with regard to water boundaries will be studied. The riparian and littoral rights of the upland owner and the problems facing the boundary surveyor will be studied. Necessary to any discussion of water boundaries is the commerce power and admiralty jurisdiction of the federal government. “Waters of the United States” will be discussed in light of Rapanos v. United States, a decision that could radically change the Army Corps of Engineers’ definition of that term. Ample cases studies will be examined to flesh-out the issues. Power Point presentation.