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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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