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Court of appeals rules in ‘No man’s land’ case

staff report
WALSENBURG — A prolonged civil case involving a quiet title deed filing on approximately 23 acres of land in Gardner, dating back to 2001, was addressed by the Colorado Court of Appeals in an unpublished ruling March 22, 2012.
The land in dispute is approximately 22 acres of so-called “no-man’s land”, which no one claimed or owned for a better part of the 20th century.
The people involved in the dispute are, on one side; Gary Lensky, also known as Baba, and his fellow kibbutzim. On the other side are the adjacent property owners to the disputed land. Those individuals, the defendant’s, were Gery DiDomenico, Carol McDonald, Charles B. Choin, Judith P. Choin, William R. Trujillo and William L. Trujillo.
The state appeals court not only ruled against Lensky’s appeals, but ordered him to pay $36,983.50 in the defendant’s attorney fees and $8,344.10 in court costs.
Colorado Appeals Court Judge Booras said in the ruling, “In light of our disposition, we deny plaintiff’s (Lensky) request for attorney fees and costs incurred in the trial court proceedings and in this appeal. Judge Taubman and Judge Roman concurred.
In October 2001 Lensky filed a quiet title action claiming fee simple ownership to approximately 23 acres adjacent to the property he had already purchased from Martha and Louis Valdez in 1997. Lensky filed an amended petition in November 2001. In the background the court wrote when plaintiff filed the petition, defendants or their predecessors in interest were the record owners of certain parcels of land located within the quiet title property. Defendants interests were also apparent by their actual possession of portions of the subject real property; for example, there were residences, fences and a liquor store on the subject property. The petition, however, the court said, only named as defendants Agnes F. Quillian and “all unknown persons who claim an interest in the subject matter of this action.”
Initially, Lensky was advised by county officials the property had been “off the tax rolls” for 72-years and was referred to as “no man’s land” because the record owner “could not be traced.” Lensky claimed that after “extensive research,” he “traced” the subject property to a 1908 deed from Fred Griffith to Agnes F. Quillian, who: ”had been deceased for over 80 years.” In 2000, Lensky paid the back taxes to 1994 on approximately 17 acres of that property.
Lensky filed a verified motion for service by publication stating the defendants to be served by publication “are unknown persons, who cannot be served by personal service in the State of Colorado.”
On October 30, 2002, the trial court entered a default decree quieting title to the subject property to the plaintiff, with the exception of a small parcel that had been awarded to John A. and Marie Y. Castro in an earlier action (02CV38).
The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and said the plaintiff, Lensky, had misrepresented or withheld material information from the count and Lensky knew one of the parties was dead and did not disclose that information. The court said he purposefully omitted to name defendants who he knew had an interest in the land.
In a 2009 hearing the court ruled against Lensky again, and the defendants counter-claimed saying Lensky’s actions were frivolous and requested attorney fees.
The court granted the attorney fees and said Lensky’s conduct was ‘fraudulent’ and violated the defendants dues process rights.