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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 practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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