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COA affirms use of equitable subrogation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to award title over a disputed piece of property, but reversed regarding the order the defendant pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

Lori Eifrid filed claims against Daniel Millikan for foreclosure, specific performance and promissory estoppel regarding a certain parcel of real property. The trial court applied the doctrine of equitable subrogation and awarded the property to Eifrid.

The property in question is a parcel of land directly to the south of Eifrid’s parcel (Parcel A), which is referred to as the Triangle. Without it, Eifrid’s ingress and egress to the cul-de-sac is effectively prevented. Millikan owns property adjacent to Eifrid’s property.

In 2001, Millikan’s brother executed a warranty deed transferring and conveying Eifrid’s parcel and the Triangle to Roger Maxey. Those two pieces were identified as single parcels of property. Maxey got a mortgage on those properties. Maxey agreed to swap with Millikan the Triangle for a 4-foot-wide strip of land just east of Parcel A.  Eventually, Maxey executed a warranty deed in lieu of foreclosure in favor of the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs on Parcel A and the Triangle, which then sold the property to Eifrid in 2006. She was given a deed that said Parcel A and the Triangle were a single tract, so she believed she was buying land that included access to the cul-de-sac.

Eifrid learned of the issues caused by the attempted “swap” of the properties between Millikan and Maxey when she received notice that a mortgage company was seeking to foreclose on the strip, which is a 4-foot-wide strip of land directly east of Parcel A. She sought to foreclose on the mortgage on the strip, and she purchased the land at a sheriff’s sale. She then filed her complaint of foreclosure, specific performance and promissory estoppel against Millikan for a determination that her legal title to the Triangle is superior to any right, title or interest Millikan might claim and that Millikan exchange the Triangle for the strip of land.

The trial court originally gave Millikan clear title to the Triangle and Eifrid title to the strip. She filed a motion to correct error, which the trial court granted. It then ruled in favor of Eifrid and awarded her legal title of the Triangle. It also ordered Millikan pay Eifrid’s attorney fees even though it did not find he committed fraud.

In Daniel P. Millikan v. Lori A. Eifrid, No. 92A03-1109-PL-433, the COA affirmed, finding the trial court did not err in determining that the doctrine of equitable subrogation applied in these circumstances. There is no showing that Eifrid or the SVA are culpably negligent in failing to discover the improper swap of the property, wrote Judge John Baker.

The trial court did abuse its discretion in ordering Millikan to pay Eifrid’s attorney fees because it did not find Millikan committed fraud or conversion and there’s no statement that Millikan was litigating the matter in bad faith. The judges remanded with instructions to vacate the award of attorney fees.

 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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