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Appeals court hears back-pay arguments

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Attorneys argued before the Indiana Court of Appeals on an appeal of a Marion Superior judge’s award of more than $42 million to a class of thousands of current and former state employees wanting to recover back pay for unequal wages earned between 1973 and 1993.

Technical difficulties at the appellate court initially prevented the Aug. 23 arguments from being broadcast live or by webcast, but typically those arguments can be viewed online at http://mycourts.in.gov/arguments/. The case is Paula Brattain, et al. v. Richmond State Hospital, et al., No. 49A02-0908-CV-718.

The Indiana Attorney General is appealing the July 2009 ruling in which Marion Superior Judge John Hanley awarded the judgment to as many as 12,000 or more past and present state employees who’d fought to recover back pay for unequal wages earned during those two decades. Judge Hanley found in favor of four subclasses of plaintiffs who’d sued about 16 years ago and nearly reached a settlement last year. The judge found that by requiring plaintiffs and others to work 40 hours a week in “split classes” during those years, the state violated the “equal pay for comparable work” regulation and breached its employment contracts with plaintiffs.

Analyzing the four types of “split classes” the plaintiffs fall into depending on where they worked, Judge Hanley awarded $20.9 million to overtime-eligible employees within state “merit agencies;” $16.7 million to overtime-eligible workers not in merit agencies; $2.7 million to overtime-exempt employees in merit agencies; and $1.9 million to overtime-exempt employees not at merit agencies.

In his ruling, Judge Hanley noted a recent legislative special session estimate showing Indiana spends approximately $38 million per day every day to operate.

Judge Hanley stayed his judgment while the state appeals the outcome of the 17-year-old class action.
 

Rehearing to "Judge awards $42.4 million in back pay suit" IL Aug. 5-18, 2009

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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