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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today - re adverse possession and prescriptive easements

In Tom Bonnell v. Ruby A. Cotner, Douglas Wayne Cotner, Arthur J. Johnson, Jimmy J. Johnson, and Jerry L. Johnson, a 10-page, 4-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:

Tom Bonnell purchased a 35-foot-wide strip of land from the Pulaski County Board of Commissioners, and Ruby and Douglas Cotner brought this action to quiet title, claiming that they had previously acquired ownership of a section of that land via adverse possession. The trial court disagreed, finding that the prior sale of the Strip by tax deed extinguished any interest the Cotners may have had. Nevertheless, the trial court awarded the Cotners a prescriptive easement on certain outbuildings erected on the Strip, and both parties appealed. We affirm the denial of the Cotners’ adverse possession claim, and reverse the grant of a prescriptive easement, finding that the sale of the Strip by tax deed extinguished any and all interest the Cotners previously possessed. * * *

After more than three years of litigation and two vigorous appeals, Mr. Bonnell now owns a 35—foot—by—100—foot section of land in the Cotners’ backyard, predominately covered with a pole barn, which Bonnell values at approximately $890. We affirm the denial of the Cotners’ claim of adverse possession in the disputed portion of the Strip, and reverse the grant of a prescriptive easement in the Cotners’ encroaching outbuildings.

Rush, C.J., and Dickson, Rucker, JJ., concur.
David, J ., did not participate.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 16, 2016 11:18 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions