ILNews

COA affirms order to enjoin

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment enjoining some members of a class action suit from pursuing a quiet title action, finding the agreements of a settlement disposed of all claims in property between the class and a company.

In Fern E. Firestone, et al. v. American Premier Underwriters Inc. and U.S. Railroad Vest, Corp., No. 06A01-0804-CV-199, the appellate court had to determine whether the trial court erred in ruling that claims brought by Wayne E. Boyd and Bunker Farms to the subject real estate don't fall within the category of title disputes excluded from the scope of declaratory judgment entered by a trial court in October 2004.

The issue arises out of a settlement agreement entered into by the railroad company and the plaintiff class, people who owned land next to or over land which Penn Central - now American Premier Underwriters - had a right-of-way for railroad use that is no longer utilized for that purpose.

The agreement stipulated when the plaintiff class' title to any portion of the settlement land adjacent to their property would be superior to the claims of title by APU and when APU's title to designated land would be superior to the class' claims.

The settlement said upon entry of the final order and judgment by the court, the class would be forever barred from initiating, claiming, or prosecuting any cause of action against APU or any released party that could have been brought in the suit. There was a stipulation in Paragraph 8 that said this declaratory judgment won't resolve title disputes between individual persons which may occur as a result of conveyances of portions of the settlement land.

Bunker Farms filed a complaint after the settlement to establish revision of title to real estate and to quiet title in the abandoned right-of-way in DeKalb County. The trial court granted APU's motions to enjoin Bunker Farms from bringing its action to quiet title.

Paragraph 8 doesn't give Bunker Farms the right to bring its action, wrote Senior Judge John Sharpnack. To allow Bunker Farms' separate suit against APU would "eviscerate the settlement agreement and the declaratory judgment," the judge wrote.

"Many, if not all, disputes over ownership between APU and class members would fall within Bunker Farms' interpretation," he wrote. "That would be an absurd result and cannot have been the intent of Paragraph 8. Rather, the paragraph speaks to parties, not including APU, who might dispute who has the ownership of the subject real estate."

As a result, the trial court was correct in its interpretation of Paragraph 8 and its order to enjoin Bunker Farms was not an error.
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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