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Judges rule on lakefront land rights case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a LaGrange Circuit judge’s decision granting summary judgment for a group of land owners caught up in a court dispute with neighbors about a portion of land situated between the plaintiffs’ homes and the shore of Big Long Lake.

In Brad A. Altevogt, et al. v. Dennis L. Brand, et al., No. 44A03-1106-MI-237, the COA affirmed a decision by LaGrange Circuit Judge Scott VanDerbeck in the land rights dispute between neighbors.

The plaintiffs in this case are front-lot owners in a subdivision platted in the 1930s in LaGrange County. Plaintiffs’ lots are situated near the lake with only the Indian Trail separating them from the lakeshore. The defendants are all back-lot owners who claim that their access to the lake would be impaired if the plaintiffs prevail in their claim of adverse possession of those portions of land in front of their lots.

In November 2008, the front-lot owners filed a complaint against the back-lot owners seeking to quiet title to those portions of the Indian Trail between the front lots and Big Long Lake. The trial court held a hearing on summary judgment motions from both sides in April 2011 and entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

The Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments that the Indian Trail was dedicated as a public easement adjacent to the lake and that their fee ownership should extend to the lakeshore. The trial court didn’t address this argument because it wasn’t raised in the pleadings, and the appellate panel found that this means the argument fails.

The plaintiffs also argued there’s insufficient evidence of the original plat-owner’s intent to establish common-law dedication but that there is enough proof to establish a stator dedication. The appellate court disagreed. Specifically, the judges found that the trail was only for the use of lot owners and guests; not the public.

Finding that the trial court properly concluded the plaintiffs hadn’t established the elements of adverse possession, the appeals judges affirmed the lower court. They also pointed out that they do not read the trial court’s order to say that all lot owners are co-tenants of the Indian Trail.


 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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