The Indiana Supreme Court has issued an opinion in a case initially filed in Pulaski County.
A decision was released Tuesday in the case of Bonnell v. Cotner after some consideration by the court. According to the facts of the case, Tom Bonnel purchased a strip of land about 35 feet wide and 100 feet long during a tax sale by the Pulaski County Board of Commissioners.
A section of that land, however, was claimed by Ruby Cotner under the state’s adverse possession laws. While the case was in the lower courts, it was determined that Mr. Bonnel owned the entirety of the strip, but a prescriptive easement was granted for the Cotners to access structures placed on that particular section of the land. Both parties appealed.
The case was taken-up by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2015 where oral arguments were heard. In their Tuesday opinion, the court reaffirmed the lower court’s opinion that all of the land purchased under tax sale belonged to Bonnel. In addition, the court called the lower court’s decision for a prescriptive easement as “clearly erroneous.” The decision was made to overturn that decision.
Among the deciding factors, according to the court’s opinion, were the circumstances under which taxes were paid, or in this case, not paid on the property. One of the representing attorneys in the case previous said the decision will affect the way delinquent taxes are enforced in Indiana.