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COA orders trial court to define, locate easement

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A trial court erred in denying a trust’s request for an easement of necessity relating to a certain parcel of land because the previous property owners didn’t grant themselves an easement before they transferred the land to the trust, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In The William C. Haak Trust v. William J. Wilusz and Judith A. Wilusz, Benjamin Luna, No. 64A04-1008-PL-567, John and Susan Hall brought an action to quiet title and have an easement of necessity declared on William and Judith Wiluszes’ land or on Benjamin Luna’s land. The Halls previously had owned the parcel that the Wiluszes’ owned, which they lost to foreclosure. The Halls later sold another parcel to the William C. Haak Trust.

The parcel sold to the trust was landlocked, but the Halls were able to access public roads through Luna’s land. The Halls’ relatives previously owned that land and allowed the Halls access to the parcel. Both the Wiluszes’ and Luna’s parcels next to the trust’s land have access to a road via their northern borders.

Several years after the foreclosure, the Halls brought an action seeking an easement of necessity, for which the trust was later substituted because the trust agreed to purchase the landlocked parcel from the Halls. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Wiluszes and Luna. The trial court reasoned the Halls weren’t entitled to an easement of necessity because they had prior opportunities to grant themselves an easement across what is now the Wiluszes’ land or arrange for an easement across Luna’s property. The trial court also denied the trust’s motion to correct error.

The Court of Appeals noted the trial judge cited no authority for her decision that the Halls lost the right to assert an easement of necessity by not granting themselves an easement before transfer, and the appellate court couldn’t find any authority.

The delay in pursuing their claim is irrelevant, wrote Judge Cale Bradford, and the right to an easement of necessity doesn’t expire or attach itself to a particular owner.

“… there is no statute of limitations on easements of necessity and the right to one does not expire upon transfer of either the dominant or serviette estates,” he wrote, citing an Illinois case that relied on the Indiana Supreme Court case, Logan v. Stogdale, 123 Ind. 372, 377, 24 N.E. 135, 137 (1890), which recognized that an easement of necessity is appurtenant.

Judge Bradford also noted that it makes no difference that the land transfer between the Halls and Wiluszes occurred because of foreclosure.

The judges found the trust has the right to an easement of necessity across the Wiluszes’ parcel, but not regarding Luna’s parcel. They ordered the trial court to take evidence sufficient to allow it to locate the easement of necessity across the Wiluszes’ land and define its dimensions.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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