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COA holds volunteer caretaker not entitled to damages

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s finding that a man was not entitled to damages for taking care of a blighted property.

In Robert Holland, A Concerned Citizen for the Redevelopment of Gary v. Richard Steele, Barbara Steele, First Midwest Bank, As Successor Trustee By Way of Merger to Bank Calumet, N.A., et al., No. 45A03-1102-PL-84, Robert Holland raised 13 issues on appeal, which the COA found did not correspond with the substance of the argument section of his brief.

Holland rented a home in Gary, Ind., on a block where many homes became vacant due to foreclosure between 2002 and 2009. Holland claimed he had made improvements to a nearby vacant home totaling $75,000, yet was unable to provide documentation of those expenses.

On May 29, 2009, Holland, identifying himself as a concerned citizen for the redevelopment of Gary, filed his Complaint for Foreclosure of Lien for Costs of Abating Nuisance and the Decrease in Value of Property. He claimed the prior owners of the home were liable for his expenses. First Midwest Bank filed a motion to intervene because it was the title-holder on the vacant home.

The trial court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment and declared a common law lien filed by Holland to be invalid. The court denied his motion to correct error and motion for relief from judgment and awarded attorney fees in the amount of $400. The COA affirmed the trial court on those decisions.

The COA denied a cross-appeal from the bank requesting appellate attorney fees, holding that the bank did not properly upkeep the property and that inaction gave rise to the litigation of Holland’s complaint.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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