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Agreement doesn’t preclude subsequent lawsuit for water damage

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A release agreement a Warrick County couple signed in 2002 regarding water issues in their home resulting from county work that disconnected downspout lines from the home does not preclude the couple from suing the city after discovering water damage to their home in 2007, the Court of Appeals held.

William and Stacy Hill found a significant amount of standing water in the crawl space under their home in 2002 after Warrick County performed drainage work in a ditch adjacent to the Hills’ home. The ditch was filled, eliminating it. In the process, downspout lines that had previously drained the Hills’ home’s roof gutters into the ditch were disconnected.

The couple signed an agreement and release with the county after it paid a contractor’s bill. But the Hills continued to have problems with accumulating water and, in 2007, discovered that their home had structural problems attributable to high moisture conditions in the foundation soil. An engineering firm submitted a report that the foundational problems were due to the elimination of the ditch.

In December 2007, the Hills filed a notice of tort claim. They filed their lawsuit in November 2008 against the county and Cincinnati Insurance Co. for damages. The county sought summary judgment, which was denied. The Court of Appeals affirmed on interlocutory appeal.

The release agreement the Hills signed did not preclude their 2008 lawsuit because the language of the agreement didn’t mention an elevated water table or connect the known blockage problems with structural damages to the home, wrote Judge Cale Bradford. The judges rejected the county’s claim that “other damages” and “interference with drainage from the home” shows that the structure problems now at issue were an understood term in the release agreement.

The Court of Appeals found the Hills filed their tort claim notice within the six-year statute of limitations on actions for injury to property other than personal property, and complied with the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The structural problems discovered in 2007 weren’t known in 2002, the judges held, and are distinguishable from the original issue of disconnected downspouts.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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