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Appeals court reverses, finds judgment on pleadings for insurer

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An Orange Circuit Court judge erred when he failed to approve an insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, and the Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered the case remanded and such a ruling entered.

On interlocutory appeal, the panel ordered judgment on the pleadings in favor of the insurer in Consolidated Insurance Company v. National Water Services LLC,  59A05-1212-PL-632. National Water sued CIC in an attempt to recover $497,500 under a policy for dishonest employees.

NWS sought to recover after it had sued a former employee, David Arnold, claiming that he had misappropriated $1,178,054 from the company. Arnold removed the suit to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in New Albany. Arnold said the accusations were false, and he filed a counterclaim of libel and defamation against NWS.

The water company settled and released Arnold, who agreed to pay NWS a sum of $30,000, according to the record. But settling with Arnold voided the insurer’s coverage, and CIC therefore is entitled to judgment on the pleadings, the panel held.

“NWS settled with Arnold and, in so doing, executed the Release which released Arnold ‘for all claims which [NWS] has or could have asserted, known and unknown, arising out of the employment of Arnold by NWS both as an employee and an independent contractor,’” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the panel.

“This Release ‘after loss’ destroyed CIC’s right of subrogation and was a breach of contract on NWS’s part, therefore discharging CIC from obligation under the Policy to provide coverage. Accordingly, we conclude that the court erred when it denied CIC’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.”

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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