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Court: 'ingress' and 'egress' doesn't include parking

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a trial judge on a land use dispute between two sets of neighbors, finding that the clear meanings of “ingress" and "egress” do not include parking as two of the Porter County residents had argued based on past caselaw.

Deciding the case of Jerry and Mary Kwolek v. Rodney and Jennifer Swickard, No. 64A05-1006-PL-372, the three-judge appellate panel found that Porter Superior Judge Mary Harper had erred in ruling in favor of the Swickards on an easement dispute stretching back more than a decade.

The Swickards had been living near 560 West since the late 1970s, and after their private road access was cut off due to state road improvements in the 1980s, they learned they were essentially landlocked. They asked the neighboring Kwoleks for permission for an ingress-egress easement over 560 West. The two neighbors agreed and filed an official agreement with the county in 1993 allowing for the 60-foot wide easement.

But disputes arose in 2000, when the Swickards built a three-car garage on their property and added a concrete apron and gravel around it, some of it located within the easement. Parking issues arose between the neighbors and visitors, and in 2006, the Kwoleks began calling the police to complain. Jerry Kwolek installed landscaping, signs, evergreens, and parked a car on the easement and left it there for six months. He also confronted the Swickards’ kids about parking arrangements. The Swickards sued in November 2008 and sought to have the landscaping improvements removed and the written easement agreement from 1993 enforced, and to allow for parking.

The trial court ruled in the Swickards’ favor in May 2010, finding that the Swickards’ parking patterns didn’t interfere with the ingress-egress and that the improvements weren’t consistent with the 1993 written easement document.

But on appeal, the Court of Appeals panel pointed out that the definitions of “ingress” and “egress” in Black’s Law Dictionary and past caselaw do not include parking. The appellate judges found the Swickards’ citation of Wendy’s OF Ft. Wayne Inc v. Fagan, 644 N.E.2d 159, 163 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994), and McCauley v. Harris, 928 N.E.2d 309, 313 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), misplaced, because while both deal with parking issues neither creates an implied right to park. The panel also rejected other Indiana and national caselaw the Swickards relied on.

Without a cogent prescriptive claim about parking, the scope of the easement can’t be expanded to include parking, the appellate panel found.

“In sum, parking is not a right incident to the enjoyment of an ingress-egress easement,” Judge Edward Najam wrote. “Again, the nature and extent of a written agreement is first determined by the text of the instrument that created it. The trial court stated that the easement should be construed in favor of the Swickards and against the Kwoleks. But where, as here, the text is explicit, there is no ambiguity to be construed.”

The appellate court found the record doesn’t support a finding that the Kwoleks’ improvements interfered with the ingress-egress. The panel also determined the doctrine of acquiescence doesn’t apply here and doesn’t bar the Kwoleks from raising their claims.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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