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Appeals court affirms judgment in family land-contract dispute

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A trial court properly ruled that an insurance company owed no duty to a mother who sold property on contract to her son and daughter-in-law, but the son and daughter-in-law who collected proceeds from the policy do.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the judgment of Howard Circuit Judge Lynn A. Murray in a 28-page order that found an insurance company was not liable for failing to name the mother on a home insurance policy despite her ownership.

In Nancy A. Missig v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, Andre M. Missig, and Autumn Missig, 34A02-1212-CT-1002, the court did find that Andre and Autumn Missig did bear liability to Nancy Missig, who had sold a Kokomo home to them on a contract under which they agreed to pay a monthly sum plus taxes and insurance.

When the home burned and was a total loss, State Farm paid claims to Andre and Autumn totaling $270,000, but the couple failed to make good on the land contract. The trial court found, and the appeals court affirmed, that State Farm owed no duty to the mother, but that she was entitled to a lien on a home in Windfall that Andre and Autumn purchased with insurance proceeds. The lien of more than $153,000 plus interest represents the balance due Nancy on the land contract for the Kokomo home.

“We conclude that the trial court properly entered judgment for Nancy against Andre and Autumn for the full unpaid balance of the land contract including interest, plus a lien and constructive trust as to the Windfall Property,” Judge John Baker wrote for the panel that included judges Ezra Friedlander and Nancy Vaidik. “We also conclude that the trial court properly determined that State Farm was not obligated to pay additional proceeds to Nancy because it already paid the required funds to Andre and Autumn, the named insureds under the policy.

“Indeed, Autumn and Andre could have shared the proceeds they received from State Farm with Nancy, but chose not to do so,” Baker wrote. The court also noted “the trial court observed that Nancy did nothing to confirm that her interest in the property was protected.”
 

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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