TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. — A small piece of property in Tipton County has led to a big court fight that’s lasted more than five years.
Richard Dickerson says the backyard space is an extension of his property that came with the land he bought in 2007.
“It seems like they are trying to take my property and that is something I don’t want to let them do,” says Dickerson.
But when Michael Karel bought the house two doors down in 2010, Karel says the man who sold him the home said the backyard extension of 300-or-so square feet was part of the sale.
“Six months after we had lived in that house, Mr Dickerson came over and told us that property wasn’t ours. Six months. We go back in history. That property has been part of that house for 15 years and now he says it’s part of his property,” says Karel.
The push for the property led to sheds being moved, stakes being put down, grass left overgrown and ultimately to a court fight.
“Four years trying to give this man money for a stupid little piece of property that should have been ours from day one, that’s what we are here for. This is ridiculous,” says Karel. “Ten thousand dollars for 300 square feet of grass.”
The sides went into mediation, where Dickerson says things turned worse and he feels he was forced into signing an agreement that turned over his property under certain conditions.
His attorney, Kevin Snider, says those conditions have not been met.
“The first one was the party would agree on a boundary line which they can’t do and secondly, more importantly, the mortgage company had to sign off on it, which they won’t,” says Snider.
Dickerson says trying to enforce the written agreement boils down to trying to take his property.
“We sat down with his lawyers and him and he told us what he wanted and we agreed to it. Now how in the world are we taking something from him?” says Karel.
“By them constructing items on the property, his property, that have now been taken down, they feel they can somehow take his property and my client is not willing to play that,” says Snider.
Now the sides are back in court over the mediated agreement.
Dickerson says the mortgage holder won’t agree to portion off part of the land, thereby nullifying the signed agreement to sale.
But Karel’s attorney, Larry Wiseman, says a deal is a deal. They don’t believe the mortgage company has even been told the details.
“We’ve gotten no cooperation from Mr. Dickerson since mediation. All we are trying to is enforce something he agreed to do,” says Wiseman.
But it’s not just the land the has the case twisted. The players in the case appear to have caused just as much turmoil.
The judge who attorneys say initially announced she would recuse herself since her sister, an attorney, had at one time talked to Dickerson about representing him. Then she said she had no plans to recuse herself, but ultimately decided to transfer the case to another judge.
Then it turned out Dickerson’s last attorney was suspended from practicing law around the same time she was representing him in mediation.
It’s become a case full of drama with no one budging.
“My client owns the property. He is not willing to sell the property. End of story,” says Snider.
“All we are trying to do is just make it right, make it go away. It’s ridiculous. It’s just stupid,” says Karel.
This land dispute case will be back in Tipton County Chancery Court Oct. 16 in front of a new judge.