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Woman’s claim for reformation of deed fails

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A Vanderburgh County woman who filed a lawsuit for reformation of a deed 46 years after receiving the warranty deed lost her appeal of a trial court ruling in favor of neighboring property owners.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the grant of partial summary judgment for Kent and Marjorie Powelson on Betty Angel’s claims for reformation of a deed and adverse possession. In 1964, Kent Powelson’s grandmother executed a warranty deed transferring 73 acres, “more or less,” to Angel and her husband. The Angels were also granted an easement for roadway purposes. The remaining 7 acres, “more or less,” were conveyed to Kent Powelson’s father in the 1970s, who later conveyed it to the Powelsons. The Powelsons also had an easement to the roadway.

After the Powelsons allowed a cell phone company to put a tower on their property, Angel sued the Powelsons in 2010, claiming, among other things, that the legal description of the property boundaries in her 1964 deed should be reformed because she was misinformed by Kent Powelson’s grandmother as to how much land she was receiving. Angel claimed that she only received 71.6 acres. She also claimed that she established ownership to the roadway through adverse possession.

Vanderburgh Superior Judge Robert Tornatta granted partial summary judgment on these two claims, finding the doctrine of laches bars Angel’s claim for reformation of the deed. Tornatta also found that the claim for adverse possession failed because her use of the roadway was not exclusive or hostile.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in Betty J. Angel v. Kent H. Powelson and Marjorie A. Powelson, 82A04-1205-PL-292, pointing to how long Angel waited to file her claim for reformation of the deed and that the deed was recorded and a matter of public record. Her failure to give heed to the “more or less” language in the deed does not defeat the application of laches, the judges held. In addition, the Powelsons were prejudiced by her delay in bringing the claim because witnesses such as Kent Powelson’s grandmother and father were deceased.

The judges also upheld the grant of summary judgment to the Powelsons on Angel’s claim of adverse possession of the roadway because she couldn’t show the elements of control and intent. Both Angel and the Powelsons were granted an easement to use the roadway and both used it for ingress and egress purposes.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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