Steve Sussex gives a tour of the property his family has occupied for 137 years on the corner of First Street and Farmer Avenue. Sussex is in a dispute with Tempe over rights to the parcel. Ben Moffat/azcentral.com
A Tempe man whose family has squatted in a century-old house on valuable property near downtown has again lost a court decision in his ongoing battle to keep his land.
A three-judge panel from the Arizona Court of Appeals said last week that a Superior Court judge was correct in tossing out Steve Sussex’s case against the city of Tempe because it had no legal merit.
But the man’s 12-year turf war remains far from resolved. Though Sussex can’t prove he rightfully owns the land, the city has so far failed in its effort to oust him. The case — and the land — remain in limbo.
Sussex’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said Monday he would appeal to the state Supreme Court. A separate court case, with Tempe asking a court to remove Sussex from the property, is still pending at the Superior Court level.
Wilenchik has fought the city’s move to eject Sussex, arguing in a counterclaim that there are problems with the city’s claim to title as well.
“I haven’t been able to get him title to the land, but the city hasn’t been able to eject him, either,” Wilenchik said. “So it’s been the same as its been for the last 120 years.”