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Justices rule in favor of Vincennes Girl Scouts in dispute over camp

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Indiana Code 32-17-10-2 is unconstitutional as applied retroactively to a land-use restriction in a Vincennes Girl Scout organization’s deed requiring an Illinois Girl Scout group to use deeded land as a camp for 49 years.

In Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois v. Vincennes Indiana Girls, Inc., 42S00-1210-PL-597, Vincennes Indiana Girls Inc. deeded its Camp Wildwood in 1965 to Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois on the condition that scouting use continue for 49 years, with the deed providing that ownership of the campground would revert to VIG if the scouting-use condition was breached during that time. The deed also said that GSSI couldn’t convey, sell or dispose of the camp in any fashion for that 49-year period unless VIG’s existence is terminated during that time.  

In January 2009, GSSI stopped using the camp for Girl Scout activities and decided to sell it. After it informed VIG of its intent, VIG discovered that it had been administratively dissolved in 2004 for failure to pay annual feels to the secretary of state. It was reinstated in August 2009. Both parties sued for quiet title to the camp, with the trial court granting summary judgment quieting title to VIG.

GSSI claimed that VIG’s reversionary interest expired by operation of I. C. 32-17-10-2, which limits reversionary clauses in land transactions to a maximum of 30 years. It also argued that VIG’s administrative dissolution in 2004 allowed GSSI to sell the camp.

Based on Indiana law, VIG’s corporate existence continued, in a limited capacity, even while it was administratively dissolved, and its reinstatement was retroactive as if the dissolution hadn’t occurred, Justice Loretta Rush wrote. As such, its reversionary rights did not terminate by operation of the deed.

“Here, though the parties only intended the restriction to run for 49 years instead of indefinitely, their contract would nevertheless be substantially impaired if it were cut off after just 30 years by applying Indiana Code section 32-17-10-2 — an effect just as ‘permanent, irrevocable, and retroactive in altering the [parties’] contractual relationships as in Clem (v. Christole, Inc.) 582 N.E.2d 780, 782 (Ind. 1991),” Rush wrote. “We see no reason this restriction, and the contractual relationship it creates, should have any less constitutional protection in a condition subsequent than in a restrictive covenant as in Clem.”

“And because VIG’s interest imposes a land-use restriction similar to a restrictive covenant, it deserves the same level of Contracts Clause protection. Since the parties bargained for a 49-year land use limitation on Camp Wildwood, terminating that restriction after just 30 years would substantially impair VIG’s contract rights. Indiana Code section 32-17-10-2 is therefore unconstitutional as applied retroactively to the land-use restriction in VIG’s deed to GSSI.”

The justices affirmed the grant of quiet title to VIG.

 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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