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Appeals court affirms judgment in family land-contract dispute

September 17, 2013

A trial court properly ruled that an insurance company owed no duty to a mother who sold property on contract to her son and daughter-in-law, but the son and daughter-in-law who collected proceeds from the policy do.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the judgment of Howard Circuit Judge Lynn A. Murray in a 28-page order that found an insurance company was not liable for failing to name the mother on a home insurance policy despite her ownership.

In Nancy A. Missig v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, Andre M. Missig, and Autumn Missig, 34A02-1212-CT-1002, the court did find that Andre and Autumn Missig did bear liability to Nancy Missig, who had sold a Kokomo home to them on a contract under which they agreed to pay a monthly sum plus taxes and insurance.

When the home burned and was a total loss, State Farm paid claims to Andre and Autumn totaling $270,000, but the couple failed to make good on the land contract. The trial court found, and the appeals court affirmed, that State Farm owed no duty to the mother, but that she was entitled to a lien on a home in Windfall that Andre and Autumn purchased with insurance proceeds. The lien of more than $153,000 plus interest represents the balance due Nancy on the land contract for the Kokomo home.

“We conclude that the trial court properly entered judgment for Nancy against Andre and Autumn for the full unpaid balance of the land contract including interest, plus a lien and constructive trust as to the Windfall Property,” Judge John Baker wrote for the panel that included judges Ezra Friedlander and Nancy Vaidik. “We also conclude that the trial court properly determined that State Farm was not obligated to pay additional proceeds to Nancy because it already paid the required funds to Andre and Autumn, the named insureds under the policy.

“Indeed, Autumn and Andre could have shared the proceeds they received from State Farm with Nancy, but chose not to do so,” Baker wrote. The court also noted “the trial court observed that Nancy did nothing to confirm that her interest in the property was protected.”
 

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