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COA holds volunteer caretaker not entitled to damages

January 27, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s finding that a man was not entitled to damages for taking care of a blighted property.

In Robert Holland, A Concerned Citizen for the Redevelopment of Gary v. Richard Steele, Barbara Steele, First Midwest Bank, As Successor Trustee By Way of Merger to Bank Calumet, N.A., et al., No. 45A03-1102-PL-84, Robert Holland raised 13 issues on appeal, which the COA found did not correspond with the substance of the argument section of his brief.

Holland rented a home in Gary, Ind., on a block where many homes became vacant due to foreclosure between 2002 and 2009. Holland claimed he had made improvements to a nearby vacant home totaling $75,000, yet was unable to provide documentation of those expenses.

On May 29, 2009, Holland, identifying himself as a concerned citizen for the redevelopment of Gary, filed his Complaint for Foreclosure of Lien for Costs of Abating Nuisance and the Decrease in Value of Property. He claimed the prior owners of the home were liable for his expenses. First Midwest Bank filed a motion to intervene because it was the title-holder on the vacant home.

The trial court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment and declared a common law lien filed by Holland to be invalid. The court denied his motion to correct error and motion for relief from judgment and awarded attorney fees in the amount of $400. The COA affirmed the trial court on those decisions.

The COA denied a cross-appeal from the bank requesting appellate attorney fees, holding that the bank did not properly upkeep the property and that inaction gave rise to the litigation of Holland’s complaint.

 

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