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Man gets partial win on appeal, still must pay for damaging woman’s home

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The man who purchased 2.28 acres of land in a foreclosure sale must pay for the damage he caused by taking the law into his own hands in trying to evict a woman living in a mobile home on the property, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But, the court reversed summary judgment in favor of the woman on adverse possession, prescriptive easement and trespass claims.

Jewell Reuter had a mobile home on a small portion of her family’s land for more than 20 years. She tended the land and installed a septic system and water lines to access a nearby well. But the land was never deeded to her. When Larry Flick purchased 2.28 acres of the family land in a foreclosure sale, nearly all of Reuter’s land, part of her septic system and the well she used were included in the portion of the land.

He tried to drive Reuter out by severing the water lines access her well, destroying her plants with a large rotary mower, and by erecting an electric fence around the home.

The trial court ruled in favor of Reuter on her adverse possession and prescriptive easement claims and awarded $29,487.70 in damages against Flick.

“Although we ultimately conclude that Reuter’s adverse-possession and prescriptive-easement claims fail, we affirm the trial court’s $29,487.70 judgment against Flick for damages he caused by attempting to eject Reuter without court authorization,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Larry Edward Flick v. Jewell Reuter, 47A01-1303-PL-135. “Indiana Code section 32-30-2-1 provides that a person having a valid interest in real property and a right to the possession of that property may recover it and take possession by bringing an action against a person claiming the title or interest in the real property. Flick disregarded the statute and engaged in unconscionable self-help; he must pay for the damage he caused by taking the law into his own hands.”

In reversing the trial court, the COA found that Reuter did not prove her payment of required taxes in order to succeed on her adverse possession claim. She was only able to show, at best, that she paid taxes on her mobile home from 2006 to 2010. She was never able to show that she paid taxes on the land, which she said she had paid since 1988 and included the land and her home.

On her prescriptive easement claim, Reuter was unable to produce evidence that she had communicated with the previous owners for permission to live on the land. They let her live on the land because she was family, and the circumstances of her use before Flick’s arrival show that her use was permissive, Vaidik wrote.

The COA also denied her request for appellate attorney fees.

 

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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