HOUGHTON, Mich. -

In an unusual land dispute, a farmer has become the new owner of 14 acres in the Upper Peninsula after the previous owner waited too long to evict him.

Carl Laitila always figured the land belonged to him because it had been farmed by his family for generations in Houghton County. But Gene Arntsen took him to court when he refused to give it up.

The Michigan appeals court last week said the 14 acres go to Laitila.

The court says Laitila made open use of the property for more than 15 years, a key standard under Michigan law.

The 14 acres is part of a larger 40-acre parcel. Arntsen's lawyer declined to comment.

The 75-year-old Laitila lives nearby at the family homestead.