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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues