ILNews

COA rules on fireworks wholesalers' challenge

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals ruling today that firework wholesalers have an administrative process to determine whether Indiana Code section 22-11-14-5 requires fireworks wholesalers to obtain certificates of compliance for each location reinforces an earlier Supreme Court decision on the matter.

In Roger Johnson, as Indiana State Fire Marshal v. Patriotic Fireworks, Inc. et al., the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the fire marshal's motion to dismiss the consolidated complaints of Patriotic Fireworks and other fireworks wholesalers and remanded with instructions. The fireworks wholesalers challenged the fire marshal's requirement that fireworks wholesalers with multiple locations must obtain separate certificates of compliance for each location they operate.

At issue is whether the trial court erred in failing to dismiss Patriotic's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals, relying on Johnson v. Celebration Fireworks, Inc., 829 N.E.2d 979, 984 (Ind. 2005), found the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction.

In 1997, Patriotic filed a complaint in Marion Superior Court challenging the fire marshal's interpretation of Indiana Code 22-11-14-5 without first pursuing administrative review. Nine similar cases were consolidated with Patriotic's case.

In November 2005, the state filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated cases, saying the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Patriotic failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing the complaint. Patriotic argued the trial court should dismiss the state's argument because no administrative review existed. In April 2006, the trial court denied the state's motion for reconsideration and granted its motion to certify an interlocutory order for immediate appeal.

Citing Johnson, the Court of Appeals disagreed with Patriotic's claims that no administrative remedy existed. In Johnson, Celebration Fireworks also did not first seek administrative review through the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission when challenging the same code. The Supreme Court found the issue whether wholesalers with multiple locations were required to obtain separate certificates for compliance can be properly resolved through the administrative process. In Johnson, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded it with instructions to dismiss Celebration's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Because Patriotic did not first pursue administrative review before being granted access to the trial court for judicial review, the Court of Appeals ruled the trial court lacked the subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claim. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded with instructions that Patriotic's complaint be dismissed.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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