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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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