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Inman v. Turner

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 2, 2014

DENNY GENE INMAN and LOIS INMAN, Appellants-Defendants,
v.
CHARLES L. TURNER and JENNIFER C. TURNER, Appellees-Plaintiffs

APPEAL FROM THE LAWRENCE CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Andrea K. McCord, Judge. Cause No. 47C01-0910-PL-1270.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: DAVID A. SMITH, McIntyre & Smith, Bedford, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: JAMES G. PITTMAN, Pittman, Emery & Nikirk, Bedford, Indiana.

BAKER, Judge. KIRSCH, J., concurs, and ROBB, J., concurs in result without opinion.

OPINION

Page 772

BAKER, Judge

[¶ 1] Denny Inman appeals the judgment of the trial court finding that he failed to establish all of the elements of his claim of adverse possession by clear and convincing evidence. Finding that the trial court's judgment is not clearly erroneous, we affirm.

FACTS

[¶ 2] Denny Inman and Charles Turner own two adjacent parcels of land in Lawrence County several miles north of Bedford. The parcels are rectangular and approximately two acres each. Inman's parcel lies to the west of Turner's. A fence runs from north to south through Turner's parcel, dividing it approximately in half.

[¶ 3] In October 2009, Turner and his wife filed a complaint to quiet title concerning land adjacent to theirs that is not the subject of this appeal. In December 2009, Inman filed a counterclaim against Turner for adverse possession of half of Turner's parcel. Inman claimed that he had adversely possessed the half of Turner's parcel that ran from the edge of Inman's parcel eastward to the fence that divided Turner's parcel in half.

[¶ 4] A bench trial was held and the trial court found that Inman had failed to meet his burden of proving the elements of adverse possession by clear and convincing evidence. Inman now appeals.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

[¶ 5] When reviewing claims tried without a jury, this Court will not set aside the findings and judgment unless clearly erroneous, and due regard will be given to the trial court's ability to judge the credibility of the witnesses. Ind. Trial Rule 52(A). A judgment will only be deemed clearly erroneous if there " is no evidence supporting the findings or the findings fail to support the judgment." Chidester v. City of Hobart, 631 N.E.2d 908, 910 (Ind. 1994). " In order to determine that a finding or conclusion is clearly erroneous, an appellate court's review of the evidence must leave it with the firm conviction that a mistake has been made." Yanoff v. Muncy, 688 N.E.2d 1259, 1262 (Ind. 1997).

[¶ 6] In Indiana, the doctrine of adverse possession entitles a person without title to obtain ownership of a piece of land upon proof of control, intent, notice, and duration. Fraley v. Minger, 829 N.E.2d 476, 486 (Ind. 2005). The adverse possessor must also pay all taxes that he reasonably believes in good faith to be due on the property during the period he claims to have adversely possessed the property. Ind. Code § 32-21-7-1. The burden is on the claimant to establish all the elements of a claim of adverse possession by clear and convincing evidence. Fraley, 829 N.E.2d at 483. Consequently, if we determine that the trial court reasonably could have found that Inman failed to prove any of the elements of a claim of adverse possession by ...


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