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Ruling: Easement to Eagle Creek indeed leads to water

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A trial court ruling that forbid residents of a lakefront subdivision from accessing the water from a public easement was overturned Monday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

“Surely the reason for the easement was not merely to give residents a way to reach the edge of Bay Colony’s grounds so that they could gaze upon the shore and the water,” Senior Judge Randall Shepard wrote. The court reversed Marion Superior Judge Thomas Carroll’s ruling that limited access to the city-owned lake from the easement maintained by nonprofit neighborhood association Bay Colony Civic Corp.

“We thus conclude that the Association is correct that the easement was intended to give the residents a way to reach the reservoir,” Shepard wrote in Bay Colony Civic Corp. v. Pearl Gasper Trust and Bruce F. Waller, 49A05-1207-PL-365. “The trial court erred by barring residents from using the easement to access the water. … We reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand with directions to grant the Association’s motion for partial summary judgment.”

Pearl Gasper and Bruce Waller own lots in Bay Colony and posted private property signs on their docks unattached to their lots that had been built by previous owners. They also put up gates and fences to restrict access to the public reservoir. They cited plat language that said the easement “is established as an area over, through, and across which the owners in this subdivision, their tenants and invitees shall have access to public land adjoining Eagle Creek Lake.” They argued nothing in the easement language provided access to the water.  

After the plaintiffs blocked access to the reservoir from their docks, Bay Colony, the nonprofit neighborhood association, cleared brush, added riparian stone and made a footpath on the easement to make it safer and easier for residents to get to the water without using Gasper’s or Waller’s docks. Gasper and Waller sued the association and won an injunction from the trial court barring it from entering their lots, altering or removing their docks or blocking Gasper’s access to her dock. The trial court also agreed with the plaintiffs’ allegation that the association misused $1,732 to complete its upgrade.

The panel also reversed the monetary judgment. “We find no violation of the Association’s bylaws,” Shepard wrote.

 

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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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