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Man gets partial win on appeal, still must pay for damaging woman’s home

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The man who purchased 2.28 acres of land in a foreclosure sale must pay for the damage he caused by taking the law into his own hands in trying to evict a woman living in a mobile home on the property, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But, the court reversed summary judgment in favor of the woman on adverse possession, prescriptive easement and trespass claims.

Jewell Reuter had a mobile home on a small portion of her family’s land for more than 20 years. She tended the land and installed a septic system and water lines to access a nearby well. But the land was never deeded to her. When Larry Flick purchased 2.28 acres of the family land in a foreclosure sale, nearly all of Reuter’s land, part of her septic system and the well she used were included in the portion of the land.

He tried to drive Reuter out by severing the water lines access her well, destroying her plants with a large rotary mower, and by erecting an electric fence around the home.

The trial court ruled in favor of Reuter on her adverse possession and prescriptive easement claims and awarded $29,487.70 in damages against Flick.

“Although we ultimately conclude that Reuter’s adverse-possession and prescriptive-easement claims fail, we affirm the trial court’s $29,487.70 judgment against Flick for damages he caused by attempting to eject Reuter without court authorization,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Larry Edward Flick v. Jewell Reuter, 47A01-1303-PL-135. “Indiana Code section 32-30-2-1 provides that a person having a valid interest in real property and a right to the possession of that property may recover it and take possession by bringing an action against a person claiming the title or interest in the real property. Flick disregarded the statute and engaged in unconscionable self-help; he must pay for the damage he caused by taking the law into his own hands.”

In reversing the trial court, the COA found that Reuter did not prove her payment of required taxes in order to succeed on her adverse possession claim. She was only able to show, at best, that she paid taxes on her mobile home from 2006 to 2010. She was never able to show that she paid taxes on the land, which she said she had paid since 1988 and included the land and her home.

On her prescriptive easement claim, Reuter was unable to produce evidence that she had communicated with the previous owners for permission to live on the land. They let her live on the land because she was family, and the circumstances of her use before Flick’s arrival show that her use was permissive, Vaidik wrote.

The COA also denied her request for appellate attorney fees.

 

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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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