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Appellate court dismisses small claims venue case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has determined that a small claims venue question is not on the list of authorized interlocutory appeals, so it dismissed a case arising out of southern Indiana.

In Amy and Steven Cerajewski v. Erin and Robert Kieffner, No. 82A01-1109-SC-401, the appellate court dismissed an interlocutory appeal after the plaintiff-appellant’s didn’t get approval first from Vanderburgh Superior Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Corcoran to certify the small claims case for appeal.

Erin and Robert Kieffner bought a Posey County home in 2010 from Amy and Steven Cerajewski, and the Cerajewskis moved to Michigan. Later that year, the Kieffners filed a small claims action in Vanderburgh County, where Erin had lived. The claim alleged breach of contract and fraud resulting from the real estate transaction.

The Cerajewskis filed a motion to transfer venue based on Indiana Trial Rule 75, saying that Vanderburgh County wasn’t the preferred venue. The trial court set a trial date and took the venue question under advisement, but the issue wasn’t decided by that trial date and the Cerajewskis didn’t appear. The small claims court entered a default judgment, but later set that aside and continued to deny the request for venue change.

Without asking for certification for appeal, the Cerajewskis filed an interlocutory appeal based on Indiana Appellate Rule 14(A)(8), which allows for interlocutory appeals as a matter of right for actions involving Trial Rule 75. However, the appellate court found that Trial Rule 75 doesn’t apply to a small claims venue.  Specifically, that rule says venue is proper in a small claims court when one of the defendants resides or has a place of employment at the time of the complaint.

Since the Cerajewskis failed to have the small claims court certify their appeal, the appellate panel dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

 

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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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