Appellate panel affirms trial court in dispute over unpaid land rental

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a man damages for conversion, the Indiana Court of Appeals found.

In Nathan Abernathy v. Larry Bertram and Keith Broyles, No. 33A04-1106-CC-317, Nathan Abernathy appealed some of the trial court’s findings in his claim of breach of contract, quantum meruit, and unjust enrichment and conversion, stemming from a dispute over unpaid rent.

In the late spring of 2007, Keith Broyles and Abernathy entered into an oral agreement whereby Abernathy would pay cash to rent farm land from Broyles. Abernathy cleared the land and planted winter wheat for harvest in the summer of 2008. At some point during the summer of 2008, Broyles talked to Abernathy about his failure to pay rent. After that conversation, Broyles hired Larry Bertram to harvest the wheat Abernathy planted, and Broyles sold it to a grain mill for $3,293.74.

On June 4, 2009, Abernathy filed a complaint against Broyles for breach of contract and quantum meruit. Abernathy stated a claim against Broyles and Bertram for unjust enrichment and damages for conversion. On March 25, 2011, the trial court awarded Abernathy $3,950. That amount was based on the amount for which Broyles sold the crop and the value of lost hay or straw, minus $2,000 in rent Abernathy owed Broyles. The trial court found Abernathy proved his breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit claims, but it denied his conversion claim.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to omit the value of Abernathy’s crop insurance policy in the amount of damages it ordered Broyles to pay. The COA also held the court did not err when it denied Abernathy’s conversion claim because he did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Broyles and Bertram intended to exercise unauthorized control over Abernathy’s property.



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  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon