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COA upholds eviction action

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A trial court properly treated a couple's action against the man who agreed to purchase a house from them as an eviction, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded. The court also analyzed for the first time the nature and effect of a pre-closing possession agreement like the one in the instant case.

In Frank Chiprean v. Brody and Lacy Stock, No. 48A04-0907-CV-389, Frank Chiprean appealed the $6,000 judgment against him in favor of the Stocks. Chiprean executed a purchase agreement for a house owned by the Stocks and completion of the sale was contingent upon Chiprean getting a mortgage to buy the house. The parties also entered into an agreement that allowed Chiprean to take possession of the home and make monthly payments to the Stocks. He also agreed to accept the property in its current condition with no further responsibility to the seller for maintenance or repair and didn't have an inspection done of the home.

While living there, part of the roof collapsed, which caused Chiprean to only be able to live in a small part of the home. He stopped making payments even though the Stocks had made arrangements to have the roof repaired.

The Stocks then filed a small claims action to evict Chiprean; Chiprean filed a counterclaim to recover his $5,000 deposit. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Stocks and denied Chiprean's counterclaim.

Chiprean argued on appeal that the trial court should have foreclosed his interest in the property, but he waived that argument because he never requested the property be foreclosed. Citing Skendzel v. Marshall, 261 Ind. 226, 301 N.E.2d 641 (1973), the appellate court noted there must be a "consummated" land sale contract with respect to a piece of land and that didn't happen here because completion was contingent upon Chiprean getting financing.

The possession agreement also appears to be more in the nature of a lease than a land sale contract, wrote Judge Michael Barnes, noting the court couldn't find any Indiana cases analyzing the nature and effect of a pre-closing possession agreement like this one.

"We reviewed one case from New York wherein the court held that payments made under a pre-closing possession agreement did not create an equitable interest in the property because there was a lack of 'clear intent between the parties that such property be held, given or transferred as security for an obligation . . . .,'" he wrote. "We conclude that there likewise is a lack of such clear intent in this case."

There's nothing in either agreement indicating that the monthly payments were intended to pay down the contract balance owed to the Stocks. The agreements don't constitute a land sale contract or reflect intent by the parties that Chiprean have an equitable interest in the property, and he's not entitled to the benefit for foreclosure proceedings, wrote the judge.

The appellate court also upheld the denial of Chiprean's counterclaim, ruling he wasn't permitted to avoid liability for payments under the possession agreement, despite his argument the house was largely unlivable after the roof collapsed.

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  1. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  2. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  3. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  4. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

  5. No, Ron Drake is not running against incumbent Larry Bucshon. That’s totally wrong; and destructively misleading to say anything like that. All political candidates, including me in the 8th district, are facing voters, not incumbents. You should not firewall away any of voters’ options. We need them all now more than ever. Right? Y’all have for decades given the Ds and Rs free 24/7/365 coverage of taxpayer-supported promotion at the expense of all alternatives. That’s plenty of head-start, money-in-the-pocket advantage for parties and people that don’t need any more free immunities, powers, privileges and money denied all others. Now it’s time to play fair and let voters know that there are, in fact, options. Much, much better, and not-corrupt options. Liberty or Bust! Andy Horning Libertarian for IN08 USA House of Representatives Freedom, Indiana

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