Judges uphold family has no right of access through neighbor’s property

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A family claiming that for more than 50 years they had an easement to access portions of their land through a neighbor’s property lost before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Earl Shields, Larry Joe Shields and Robert Shields appealed the trial court’s findings of fact, and conclusions of law and order from Dec. 9, 2011, and the subsequent denial of their motion to correct errors in favor of neighbor Rodney Taylor. The Shields said they have driven across Taylor’s property on a dirt road accessed from a public road to reach the back portion of their land for the last 40 or 50 years, before Taylor owned the land. The Shields believed they had an easement from a previous owner, but none was found recorded. They also said that the two previous owners allowed them to use the property to access their own.

Taylor never gave the Shields permission, nor did they ask, to use his property to access theirs, and a dispute arose in 2010 after the Shields had logging done on their property. The logging company cut a trail through Taylor’s property to access the Shields’ property. Taylor filed a complaint in 2011 alleging trespass and asking for a restraining order to prevent the Shields from entering his property.

The Shields filed a counterclaim asserting that Taylor gave them access to the road by his own consent or acquiescence.  The trial court found that the Shields, by asserting that Taylor consented to their use of the Taylor real estate until 2010, acknowledged the permissive nature of their past access to Taylor’s land. They also allege that Taylor consented, then at some point rescinded the entry. The judge ruled the Shields do not have a legal basis for continued entry onto Taylor’s property.

The Shields did not sufficiently plead facts claiming that their use of the dirt road over Taylor’s property connecting the public road and the back part of their property had established a prescriptive easement, the Court of Appeals ruled. The Shields must establish clear and convincing proof of control, intent, notice and duration as the party claiming the existence of a prescriptive easement.

The court focused on the duration element, pointing to Indiana Code 32-23-1-1, which establishes that a prescriptive easement must be shown to have been in existence uninterrupted for at least 20 years. The Shields in their counterclaim did not plead that they used the dirt road in an adverse manner for 20 years or more with regards to when Taylor owned the land, so the trial court did not err in finding their counterclaim alleged only consensual entry or a consensual right of access to Taylor’s property, Judge Elaine Brown wrote in Earl F. Shields, Larry J. Shields, and Robert L. Shields v. Rodney L. Taylor, 53A04-1202-PL-95.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.