Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

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The boundary separating public trust land from privately-owned riparian land along the shores of Lake Michigan is the common-law ordinary high water mark (OHWM). Absent an authorized legislative conveyance, the State retains exclusive title up to that boundary. In this case, the trial court determined that the State holds title to the Lake Michigan shores in trust for the public and concluded that the private property interests at issue here overlap with those of the State. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Indiana, at statehood, acquired exclusive title to the bed of Lake Michigan up to the natural OHWM; (2) Indiana retains exclusive title up to the natural OHWM of Lake Michigan; and (3) at a minimum, walking along the Lake Michigan shore is a protected activity inherent in the exercise of traditional public trust rights. View "Gunderson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice under Trial Rule 12(B)(6). Plaintiff brought an inverse-condemnation action against Defendant. The trial court found the statute of limitations had expired and dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice under Rule 12(B)(6). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Indiana’s discovery rule tolled the running of the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thereby vacating the court of appeals’ opinion, and reversed the trial court’s dismissal, albeit on different grounds, holding that the dismissal was premature because the face of the complaint did not establish that the asserted claim was time-barred. View "Bellwether Properties, LLC v. Duke Energy Indiana, Inc." on Justia Law

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Because this appeal was not from a final judgment, the Supreme Court, for judicial economy under this case’s particular circumstances, elected to stay this appeal’s consideration and remanded the case to the trial court. After the Town of Ellettsville’s Plan Commission approved the request of Richland Convenience Store Partners, LLC to amend a subdivision plat so Richland could move a utility easement on its property, Joseph DeSpirito, Richland’s neighbor whose property the easement benefitted, sued for judicial review, declaratory relief and associated damages and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. An order on judicial review granted DeSpirito’s motion for summary judgment, but the order was silent on DeSpirito’s request for damages and a permanent injunction. Richland and the Commission (collectively, Appellants) filed notices of appeal. The court of appeals reversed the trial court and remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment for Appellants. The Supreme Court granted transfer. The court held that the record on appeal showed no final judgment and remanded the case to the trial court to decide whether to expressly direct entry of judgment under Trial Rule 54(B) or Under Trial Rule 56(C). View "Town of Ellettsville v. DeSpirito" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment concluding that the State’s proposed forfeiture of Defendant’s Land Rover that Defendant used to transport illegal drugs would violate the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. The State sought to forfeit the Land Rover after Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of Class B felony dealing and one count of Class D felony conspiracy to commit theft. The trial court denied the State’s action, concluding that forfeiture would be an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the United States Supreme Court has never enforced the Excessive Fines Clause against the states, and this court opts not to do so in this case; and (2) based on the trial court’s findings, the state proved it was entitled to forfeit the Land Rover. View "State v. Timbs" on Justia Law

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CitiMortgage, Inc. obtained a judgment of foreclosure against the family homestead of Homeowners - husband and wife. Homeowners attempted to appeal without legal representation. The Court of Appeals dismissed the attempted appeal with prejudice because of defects in Homeowners’ filings. Homeowners filed a petition to transfer, which the Supreme Court initially denied. On reconsideration, the Court vacated the order denying transfer and assumed jurisdiction over this appeal. The Court then affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that, under the facts presented in this case, the trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of CitiMortgage. View "McCullough v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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The owner of real property executed a warranty deed to three grantees, two of whom (Husband and Wife) were married. A dozen years later, in a separate case, the circuit court entered a damages judgment against Husband and the third grantee (Underwood) and in favor of Underwood’s former employer (Demming). The Demming judgment subsequently became a lien on the property. Husband subsequently denied. Thereafter, Underwood brought this action seeking to partition and sell the property and distribute the proceeds, arguing that she, Husband, and Wife owned the property as tenants in common and that she no longer wanted to own the property in common with Wife and Husband’s Estate. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Estate and Demming. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Husband’s interest in the property passed directly to Wife upon his death and not to his Estate. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed, holding that Indiana’s legal presumption that spouses owning real property hold their interests as tenants by the entirety is rebutted on the record in this case because the deed conveying the property specifies that the tree grantees shall take the property “all as Tenants-in-Common.” Remanded. View "Underwood v. Bunger" on Justia Law

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In 2014, the Town of Fortville adopted an ordinance and resolution annexing 644 acres (the “Annexation Territory”) of land adjacent to the municipality. A number of landowners (“Remonstrators”) comprising ninety-three percent of the owners of parcels within the affected area filed a petition challenging the proposed annexation. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Remonstrators and ordered that the annexation shall not take place, concluding that the Annexation Territory was not needed and could not be used by the municipality for its development in the reasonably near future. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court fulfilled its obligation to consider only whether the statutory conditions for annexation had been satisfied; and (2) the trial court did not clearly err in upholding the remonstrance and denying annexation because Fortville failed to demonstrate that the Annexation Territory was needed and could be used for Fortville’s development in the reasonably near future. View "Town of Fortville v. Certain Fortville Annexation Territory Landowners" on Justia Law

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After Tom Bonnell bought a strip of land from the Pulaski County Board of Commissioners, Ruby and Douglas Cotner filed this suit to quiet title, claiming that they had previously acquired ownership of a second of that land via adverse possession. The trial court (1) concluded that the prior sale of the strip by tax deed extinguished any interest the Cotners may have had, but (2) awarded the Cotners a prescriptive easement on certain outbuildings encroaching onto the strip. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the denial of the Cotners’ adverse possession claim, holding that the tax sales of the strip defeated the Cotners’ claim of ownership by adverse possession; but (2) reversed the grant of a prescriptive easement in the Cotners’ encroaching outbuildings, holding that the sale of the strip by tax deed extinguished any and all interest the Cotners previously possessed. View "Bonnell v. Cotner" on Justia Law