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Man unable to prevent settlement agreement

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The man who wanted to purchase a divorcing couple’s farm lacked a present interest in the real estate and couldn’t prevent a settlement agreement between the couple, which led to the husband keeping the farm, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

In Joseph Meizelis v. Dana Durbin and Debra Durbin, 70A01-1112-DR-598, the appellate court affirmed Rush Circuit Special Judge Daniel Lee Pflum’s denial of Joseph Meizelis’ motion for relief from the agreed judgment between Dana and Debra Durbin on grounds he hadn’t been given notice of the agreement. Meizelis also had filed a lis pendens notice after the Durbins entered into the settlement agreement.

The couple was divorcing, and Meizelis offered to buy the farm. He was even permitted to intervene in the dissolution action. In a March 23, 2011, order, the trial court determined Dana Durbin could keep the farm property if he met certain financial obligations; if not, he could sell it to Meizelis. Dana Durbin filed a motion to correct error, and he and Debra Durbin reached a settlement agreement during the pendency of that motion.

The agreement was similar to the court order, but it did relax some of the obligations Dana Durbin had to meet if he wanted to keep the farm.

Meizelis argued that the agreed entry was void because it had been entered without his knowledge or consent. The trial court found that Meizelis had no present interest in the real estate and his lis pendens notice will be stricken, depending on the outcome of this appeal.

But the Court of Appeals upheld Pflum’s ruling, finding that Meizelis merely made an offer to purchase, but the Durbins never accepted it.

“Meizelis’s position appears to be that his interest arises from the fact that the trial court ordered Dana to sell to him if he could not meet certain financial obligations, but at no point was Meizelis under an affirmative obligation to do anything; the court’s orders were addressed to Dana, not Meizelis,” Judge Terry Crone wrote.

Meizelis could not prevent the Durbins from entering into a settlement agreement regarding the distribution of their property, he continued. The judges sent the case back with instructions to strike the lis pendends notice upon certification of the appellate opinion.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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