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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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