Corn v. Corn (IN)

Summary: Claimant failed to establish adverse possession of the lane because the lane was not under his exclusive control.


Corn v. Corn, 24 N.E.3d 987 (Ind.App. 2015).


Facts:  The Corn family was successor in interest to land in Wabash County. The land was divided into a 53 acre lot to the north, an 8 acre lot in the southwest, and a 19 acre lot in the south east. Mary Bailey held fee simple title to the southwest land. The southeastern land and northern parcel was owned by Pricilla Yeater and Ludlow Sparling, brother and sister. They combined their title as tenants in common. 

Sparling conveyed to Yeater title to the southeastern parcel, with a provision which reserved title to a lane. Yeater conveyed the northern lot to Sparling which granted the right to use the lane. Yeater then conveyed to Bailey title in the southeastern parcel, reserving the right to use the lane. Bailey then conveyed southern parcels to Ovid Conner with the right to use the lane. Yeater made a conveyance to Sparling to quit claim her interest in the lane to Sparling.

The Northern Parcel eventually became one title and was conveyed to Randy Corn and his wife Debra. Simple fee title in the southwestern and southeastern parcels was conveyed to Junior P. Corn. Randy and Junior used the lane with no issue.

Junior eventually conveyed a portion of the southwestern parcel to his daughter Becky Bowman. It did not adjoin the lane. Junior also conveyed some of the southwestern parcel to his son Benjamin which adjoined the lane. In 1999, Randy claimed that he had title to the lane and did not want them to use the lane to help build a home on Benjamin’s land. They ignored the request and connected the lane to the home. Benjamin routinely used the lane. Randy, Benjamin, and Becky all made improvements to the lane. In 2006, Debra conveyed her interest in the land to Randy after divorce.  

Randy eventually brought suit to clear title to the lane. A bench trial concluded that the Sparling conveyance retained title to the lane. Yeater retained only an easement to the lane. Randy appealed.


Holding: Reversed and remanded. The appellate court analyzed the three conveyances on their face. Courts will look to the entirety and parts of a deed to determine the intent of the parties. The plain language of the three conveyances indicated the lane was part of the southeastern parcel, Sparling retained title in the lane, Yeater’s conveyance of the southeastern parcel to Bailey did not include title to the lane,  and Bailey did not consider the lane part of the combined eastern and western southern parcels. Junior was successor in interest to the estate, and it excluded ownership of the lane from that title. The court concluded that Randy held fee simple title in the lane.

The court found that Junior failed to establish adverse possession of the lane, because the lane was not under his exclusive control; others also used the lane. The appellate court sent the case back to the lower court to determine the issue of prescriptive easement.  


Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Wed, 02/24/2016 - 1:20pm