from the Crawford Circuit Court The Honorable Sabrina R.
Bell, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 13C01-1505-PL-16
Attorney for Appellant Richard Wayne Greeson Connersville,
WindGate Properties, LLC, (WindGate) and Chris Sanders each
multiple tracts of land at a tax sale. These tracts all had
the same owner prior to the tax sale, and the tax sale left
landlocked one tract purchased by Sanders and two purchased
by WindGate. In response to a quiet title action filed by
WindGate, Sanders asserted that he had an implied easement by
necessity across one of WindGate's tracts. Following a
bench trial, the trial court issued an order quieting title
to WindGate subject to an implied easement by necessity for
the benefit of Sanders. WindGate's arguments on appeal
are numerous, but they all essentially boil down to a claim
that easements should be established over adjacent properties
to the north rather than WindGate's property.
& Procedural History
Opportunity Options, Inc., owned a significant amount of
undeveloped real estate in Crawford County that was sold at a
tax sale on September 27, 2013. WindGate and Sanders, as well
as others, purchased parcels at this sale. Relevant to this
appeal, WindGate and Sanders each purchased a parcel that was
divided into two non-adjacent tracts. The four tracts -
Sanders 1 (4.45 acres), WindGate 1 (49.014 acres), Sanders 2
(28.24 acres), and WindGate 2 (34.142 acres) - were situated
like puzzle pieces as follows:
Appendix Vol. 2 at 105 (modified from original).
Sanders 1 had access to a public roadway at its northwest
corner, but the other three tracts were landlocked following
the tax sale. None of these landlocked tracts had any
recorded easements for ingress or egress.
The real estate to the north of Sanders's and
WindGate's parcels (the Northern Real Estate) was
"[a]t some point in time" all owned by Opportunity
Options. Transcript at 39. The record is vague
regarding the Northern Real Estate, but the record
establishes that sometime prior to the tax sale, likely at
different times, the land was divided and sold to various
people. Throughout the Northern Real Estate,
Opportunity Options had built dirt and gravel roads to access
the land from public roadways. Part of one of these private
roads runs along the northern boundary of Sanders 2 and
another runs north to Tower Road.
On May 22, 2015, WindGate filed a complaint to quiet title in
the parcel comprised of WindGate 1 and WindGate
Along with Opportunity Options and various lienholders,
WindGate named as defendants the following adjacent property
owners: Larry and Deborah Lynch, Patsy and Louis Humphrey,
Turner Corn, Trent Seyeyasu (sic), Sherry Applegate, and
On July 30, 2015, Sanders filed his answer to the complaint
and claimed an easement across WindGate's property.
Sanders did not file a counterclaim. In his answer, however,
he requested that the court "enter an order declaring
his easement across the real estate of the Plaintiff to be
exclusive and superior to all claims of the Plaintiff and
other Defendants". Appendix Vol. 2 at 24.
Because the other adjacent property owners did not answer the
complaint, these defendants, as well as ...