In a unique action brought against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) the Court ruled that property belonging to the MTA is not immune from adverse possession. In Brocho V’Hatzlocho Corp. v. MTA, the Plaintiff claimed that it acquired title to an adjacent property which was owned by the MTA through adverse possession. Adverse possession effectively allows a party to gain title to another person’s real property where the claiming parties possesses the property in a manner which is hostile and under claim of right, actual, open and notorious, exclusive, and continuous for a period of 10 years. The MTA sought to defeat the Plaintiff’s claim by asserting that property owned by the government cannot be taken through adverse possession. However, the Court disagreed with this contention.
The Court first determined that the MTA is a public benefit corporation which is empowered by the State Legislature to acquire, hold and dispose of real property in the exercise of its powers. While the Court ruled that government entities are immune from adverse possession, that immunity does not apply where the government holds property which is not inalienable. The MTA’s power to acquire and dispose of real property reflects the simple fact that property which is acquires is not considered inalienable.