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2011 update of DTCI amicus cases

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This will be my final annual update of Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana’s participation in amicus cases. I have decided after over 10 years heading up the Amicus Committee, it is time for me to step aside. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, Don Kite will assume the chair. I will stay on the committee for another year to help Don with the transition.

In 2011, DTCI has participated as amicus in several significant legal issues affecting the defense bar. It was involved in a certified question concerning the crash worthiness doctrine and prepared a brief concerning whether failure to maintain medical records constitutes spoliation. Finally, the Amicus Committee was involved in one of the cases deciding whether plaintiffs in wrongful death cases were entitled to attorney fees. The Amicus Committee also welcomed a new member, Edward Harney of Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons.

james johnson Johnson

Below are the 2011 cases:

Cases decided at the Indiana Supreme Court

Nicholas Green v. Ford Motor Co., 942 N.E.2d 791 (Ind. 2011), Certified Question from S.D. Ind. The court decided that in a crash worthiness case alleging enhanced injuries under the Indiana Product Liability Act, the jury can apportion fault to the person suffering physical harm when the alleged fault relates to the cause of the underlying accident. Ross Rudolph of Rudolph Fine Porter & Johnson and James Godbold of Kightlinger & Gray’s Evansville office prepared the amicus brief.

Ashby and O’Brien v. Davidson, 949 N.E.2d 301 (Ind. 2011). The court held a claims-made policy of insurance requires notice by an insured prior to the expiration of the policy period. However, the court held there was a material issue of fact on plaintiff’s estoppel claim (DTCI did not participate in the estoppel claim). Don Kite of Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan wrote the amicus brief.

Howard Regional Health Systems v. Gordon, 952 N.E.2d 182 (Ind. 2011). The court held there is no spoliation cause of action for failing to comply with a statute concerning maintenance of health care records against a health care provider who fails to maintain medical records. The amicus brief was written by Tom Bodkin of Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn.

Hematology-Oncology of Indiana, P.C. v. Fruits, 950 N.E.2d 295 (Ind. 2011). The court held plaintiffs are entitled to an award of attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Adult Wrongful Death Act. Robert Parker prepared the DTCI amicus brief.

Cases pending at Indiana Court of Appeals

Santelli v. Rahmatullah and Super 8 Motel, No. 49D04-0704-CT-14720. The issue is whether in a premises liability case where a person was murdered, the premises owner can name the criminal assailant as a nonparty. Lucy Dollens of Frost Brown Todd wrote the amicus brief.

I would like to thank all the individuals and firms that supplied briefs in the above matters. This work is time consuming and challenging. The work of the brief writers is appreciated by everyone at DTCI.

As usual, I speak for the DTCI board in expressing my thanks to the members of Amicus Committee: Michele Bryant (Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn); Lucy Dollens; Michael Dugan (Dugan & Voland); Daniel Glavin (O’Neill McFadden & Willett); Phil Kalamaros (Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros); Don Kite Sr.; Crystal Rowe (Kightlinger & Gray) and Edward Harney. I speak for the entire committee when I thank the DTCI board of directors and its members for their continued support of the Amicus Committee.

Finally, on a personal note, my time as Amicus chair has been one of the most professionally fulfilling experiences in my career. The combination of the intellectual debates on the committee, the policy discussions with the board and the work with the brief writers will never be duplicated. I hope Don has as great an experience as I have had over the last 10 years.•

__________

James D. Johnson is a partner in the litigation department at Rudolph Fine Porter & Johnson in Evansville. Johnson will be vice president of DTCI beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
 

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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