By Judy Clabes
A Kenton County judge’s decision on the real estate dispute between neighbors over ownership of a garage in Covington’s historic Licking Riverside neighborhood has now been appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. .
The contentious lawsuit pits neighbors Marc Tischbein and Peggy Rankin, owners of the main house at 420-422 Riverside Drive, and Scott and Lorrie Hill, owners of the Carriage House at 109 Shelby. Both properties are at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers.
The trial had been in the court of Kenton Circuit Judge Kathleen Lape since 2018 and the depositions piled up and the depositions were submitted and the insults were hurled endlessly until the judge finally delivered a “summary judgment” appealable in the case.
She granted “ownership” of a garage that the “out of town” buyers, the Hills, have a deed to say they are theirs.
The Hills bought the Carriage House in 2018 from Covington businessman David Klingshirn, a deacon at their Cincinnati church, who also at one time owned the main house. Klingshirn and Tischbein were close friends and for a time shared the main house, although the deed was in Klingshirn’s name.
In 1993, Klingshirn, Tischbein and Rankin, then Tischbein’s fiancée, purchased the Carriage House together and undertook extensive renovations which included the construction of two garages which are jointly attached to the Carriage House. And, at one point, because Klingshire wanted to cut expenses, they agreed to split the properties with the main house going to Tischbein and Rankin and with Klingshirn taking the shed. Later, Klingshirn decided to sell the Carriage House to move into a retirement community in Cincinnati – and Tischbein and Rankin refused to buy it from him.
The trio’s friendship is a fatality in the trial, as “gentleman’s agreements” and not written documents governed the relationship. And the hills became collateral damage when they bought the property from Klingshirn and the bill of sale showed the two garages on it. Klingshirn testified that “of course” the two garages were on his part of the property.
Lape made the “summary judgment” decision based on a legal concept called “adverse possession,” although she began by saying that Tischbein-Rankin had a “license” to use the garage. These are, according to legal analysts at the NKyTribune, two contradictory concepts. One is “adverse” (ie non-consensual) and the other is voluntary. These are two legal options for taking possession of someone else’s property. But you can’t argue both ways. Furthermore, there was never a written “permit” regarding the use of the garage in question.
The judge also said it was impossible for the Hills to win the case in a jury trial, which they had requested – and which she denied.
By law, our analysts say, a “summary judgment” is appropriate when there is no dispute between the parties on the facts of the case. And there are many disputes over the facts of this case, which makes it suitable for the Court of Appeal.
The appeal also notes that the judge never ruled on the Hills’ request for more information by way of discovery.
The appeal suggests that where there are inconsistencies in the evidence — which is certainly the case here — that a judge cannot simply choose certain facts to fit a decision while ignoring facts that do not match. not.
The Court of Appeals can agree to hear the case – and has a choice: accept Justice Lape’s ruling (which creates an appeal to the state Supreme Court) or send the case back for a jury trial before the court of Judge Lape. If he is sent back to the lower court, he can come back with very specific instructions on how the judge should proceed.
See NKyTribune’s story on the garage feud here.
To read all the documents that make up the call, click here.
Stay tuned for the next chapter.