Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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Buyers agreed to buy a condominium from Seller pursuant to a purchase agreement. Buyers demanded that Seller fix a minor electrical problem as a condition of purchase, which led to this protracted litigation. In the first appeal, the court of appeals concluded that Buyers breached the contract with their unreasonable demand and remanded for the trial court to determine damages. The trial court awarded Seller $93,972 in damages. Seller appealed, arguing that she reasonably mitigated her damages and that the trial court erred in calculating damages. Buyers cross-appealed. The court of appeals reversed and awarded only $117 in damages, concluding that Seller could have avoided all damages except a $117 repair bill if she had responded to Buyers’ demand to fix the electrical problem, thus preserving the agreement. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed the trial court, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion (1) by finding that Seller could have mitigated her damages by selling her condo in 2007 rather than waiting until 2011; and (2) in refusing to find that Seller’s duty to mitigate required yielding to the Buyers’ breach. View "Fischer v. Heymann" on Justia Law

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The City of Boonville passed an ordinance to annex 1,165 acres of real estate located west of the city limits. Later that year, numerous landowners opposed to the annexation filed written remonstrance and complaint for declaratory relief. The City moved to dismiss, arguing that the Landowners did not satisfy the statutory requirement that at least sixty-five percent of landowners in the annexed territory sign the remonstrance. At issue in this case was whether the sixty-five percent remonstrance threshold was to be determined by separately counting the multiple parcels acquired by the State for an adjoining public roadway or collectively as one parcel. The trial court ultimately determined that the threshold was not satisfied. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the land in this case, which comprised the portion of the public roadway included in the annexed territory, should be considered and counted as a single parcel in determining whether the remonstrating landowners comprised sixty-five percent of the owners of the annexed territory. View "Am. Cold Storage v. City of Boonville" on Justia Law

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Ruth Fulp placed her family farm in a revocable trust with trust assets going to her three children upon her death. Fulp decided to sell the farm to her son, Harold, a few years later. The proposed sale was for a low price to pay for Fulp's retirement home care and to keep the farm in the family. Ruth's daughter, Nancy, opposed the action, arguing that a bargain sale would breach Ruth's fiduciary duty to her children and deprive Nancy of her share of the trust. The trial court found that Ruth breached her fiduciary duty to the children by selling the farm at a low price. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that under the terms of the trust and the Indiana Trust Code, Ruth did not owe her children a fiduciary duty to sell the farm at less than fair market price and that Ruth did not effectively amend the trust by selling the farm. Remanded. View "Fulp v. Gilliland" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was Ind. Code 6-1.1-24-3(b), which provides that a mortgagee annually request by certified mail a copy of notice that a parcel of real property is eligible for sale under the tax sale statutes. Here a bank, which held a mortgage on certain property, failed to submit a form affirmatively requesting from the county auditor to mail notice of a pending sale of the real property. Therefore, the bank was not notified that its mortgaged property was tax delinquent until after the property had been sold and the buyer requested a tax deed. The buyer filed a petition to direct the county auditor to issue a tax deed for the property, and the bank filed a response challenging the tax sale notice statutes as unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court issued an order holding that the statute was unconstitutional and denying the buyer's petition. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 6-1.1-24-3(b) was constitutional under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Remanded. View "M & M Inv. Group, LLC v. Ahlemeyer Farms, Inc." on Justia Law

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Buyers bought a home from Sellers after Sellers completed Indiana's statutory disclosure forms attesting to the home's condition. Buyers subsequently discovered costly defects in the home. Buyers sued Sellers, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation. The trial court awarded damages to Plaintiffs. At issue on appeal was whether Indiana's disclosure statutes created a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation or if the common law still applied and the principle of caveat emptor precluded recovery on the action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the legislature's adoption of the disclosure statutes abrogated the state's common law jurisprudence falling within their scope, and therefore, the disclosure statues create liability for sellers when they fail to truthfully disclose the condition of features of their property that must be disclosed to the buyer; and (2) the district court erred in finding that Sellers were liable to Buyers because the defects in the home "should have been obvious" to Sellers, as Sellers' "actual knowledge" of the defects was not established. Remanded. View "Johnson v. Wysocki" on Justia Law

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Vincennes Indiana Girls, Inc. (VIG) deeded Camp Wildwood to the predecessor of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, Inc. (GSSI) on the condition that the property be used for scouting purposes for forty-nine years. The deed provided that ownership of the campground would revert to VIG if the scouting-use condition was breached during that time. After forty-four years, GSSI stopped using the camp as a Girl Scout facility and decided to sell. VIG sued to quiet title to Camp Wildwood and enjoin GSSI from selling the camp until the forty-nine-year period had expired. The trial court granted summary judgment quieting title in VIG. At issue on appeal was whether the forty-nine-year land use limitation was enforceable despite a subsequently enacted statute, Ind. Code 32-17-10-2, which purported to limit reversionary clauses in land transactions to a maximum of thirty years. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 32-17-10-2 was unconstitutional as applied retroactively to the land-use restriction in VIG's deed to GSSI. View "Girl Scouts of S. Ill. v. Vincennes Ind. Girls, Inc." on Justia Law

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A steel fabrication company deposited solid waste on a landowner's property, after which the landowner (Plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking damages against multiple parties (Defendants) and on multiple grounds, including a claim for an environmental legal action (ELA). Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on his environmental legal action claim and sought to impose corporate liability on Defendants. Defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims, except for his claim of negligence. The trial court denied Plaintiff's motions and granted Defendants' motions as to all claims, leaving for trial only Plaintiff's negligence claim and the claims of potential liability against Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that summary judgment was (1) not proper for either party on Plaintiff's ELA claim; (2) not proper for Defendants on Plaintiff's illegal dumping, fraud, nuisance, and trespass claims; (3) proper for Defendants on Plaintiff's unjust enrichment and intentional torts claims; (4) proper for certain defendants on Plaintiff's responsible corporate officer claim but improper as to others; and (5) proper for Plaintiff on his claims against one defendant as responsible corporate officer. View "Reed v. Reid" on Justia Law

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Shannon Barabas had two mortgages on her Madison County home. The second mortgagee foreclosed on the property without notice to the first. The first mortgagee sought to intervene and obtain relief from the foreclosure judgment, but the trial court denied its motion, finding that the first mortgagee was bound by the default judgment because its assignment of the mortgage was never properly recorded. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the first mortgagee had a right to intervene; and (2) the default judgment was void for lack of personal jurisdiction as to the first mortgagee because it had no notice of the foreclosure proceeding. View "Citimortgage, Inc. v. Barabas" on Justia Law

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When Sean and Dee Anna Ryan divorced, they agreed to sell two properties they owned and divide the proceeds, subject to a proviso that neither party was required to accept a sale yielding net proceeds below specified minimums. When the properties could not be sold at or above the specified minimums, Dee Anna refused to waive the proviso. Sean filed a motion for relief from judgment, seeking a court order that the properties be sold at prevailing fair market value and the private agreement be declared of no further force and effect. The trial court denied Sean's request. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) general rules applicable to contract construction dictated that Dee Anna was not required to agree to sell the properties for net proceeds less than the amounts set forth in the parties' agreement; and (2) Sean was not entitled to relief under Trial Rule 60(B), under which a court may relieve a party from a judgment. View "Ryan v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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This case involved a property dispute between an individual church congregation, Olivet Presbyterian Church, and the denominational organization with which it was previously affiliated, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the latter's subsidiary organizations, the plaintiffs in this action, the Presbytery of Ohio Valley and the Synod of Lincoln Trails of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc. (collectively, "Presbytery"). The trial court granted summary judgment rejecting the Presbytery's claims of express and implied trust and holding that the disputed property was solely owned by Olivet. The Presbytery appealed both the denial of its motion for summary judgment and the granting of Olivet's motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact arose from the inferences flowing from the stipulated designated evidence and that neither Olivet nor the Presbytery was entitled to the full relief sought in their respective motions for summary judgment. Remanded. View "Presbytery of Ohio Valley, Inc. v. OPC, Inc." on Justia Law