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Appeals court reinstates trucker’s wrongful death suit

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A trial court erred in granting summary judgment for an axle manufacturer sued by the estate of a contract truck driver who died when a load fell on him in an accident that occurred while the facility was closed.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals remanded to Wabash Circuit Judge Robert R. McCallen III Linda Huffman, Individually and as Personal Rep. of the Estate of Jerry Huffman, Deceased v. Dexter Axle Company & Evans Equipment Co., 85A02-1207-CT-586. The panel held that Dexter Axle Company owed a duty of reasonable care to Jerry Huffman as a business visitor who had permission to pick up loads even when the company was closed and no employees were present.

“As a matter of law, Dexter owed a duty to Huffman on the day of the accident. Genuine issues of material fact exist as to the remaining elements of Linda’s claim. We reverse and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings,” Judge Rudy Pyle III wrote in an opinion joined by Chief Judge Margaret Robb.

Judge Melissa May concurred in result but split with Pyle and Robb on their finding that the evidence demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact regarding breach of duty due to violation of OSHA regulations that may have led to the accident.

“I agree we should reverse summary judgment for Dexter for the reasons the majority states: Dexter owed Huffman, its invitee, a duty and there are fact issues as to breach and proximate cause,” May wrote in the concurring opinion. “However, I believe it is unnecessary, and therefore inappropriate, to address OSHA regulations, DOT regulations, the interpretation and application of those regulations, preemption, and congressional intent in this relatively straightforward premises liability case.”


 

 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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