ILNews

Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in three cases - David Michael Green v. State of Indiana; Beth Palmer Kopczynski and Alisha Palmer v. David B. and Peggy L. Barger; and Richard U. and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, et al.

In Green v. State, 45A05-0612-CR-708, Green appealed his conviction and sentence for two counts of felony murder, claiming his victim's death was out of self-defense and an accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed the state presented sufficient evidence to prove Green did not murder his victim, who was pregnant, out of self-defense and accident.

Green also appealed the admission of his pretrial statement to police and argued the imposition of consecutive sentences was inappropriate. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court finding that Green's statement to police would be admissible because he had not been charged with a crime at the time of the statement nor was he engaged in plea negotiations. The Court of Appeals also ruled Green's consecutive sentence was appropriate because of the nature of the crime and multiple victims.

In Beth Palmer Kopczynski and Alisha Palmer v. David B. and Peggy L. Barger, 88A05-0612-CV-703, Kopczynski and her minor daughter, Alisha, appealed the trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bargers on their claims for negligence and premises liability, which the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Palmers claimed there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Bargers were negligent in letting Alisha play unsupervised on their trampoline, as well as the Bargers should be liable for Alisha's knee injury while on the trampoline because it was an attractive nuisance.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment because Alisha was invited to play on the trampoline by the Bargers' young son, who lacked the authority to invite her to play on it. Alisha was determined to be trespassing when she came on the Bargers' property to play on the trampoline, and there is no evidence of willful or wanton conduct by the Bargers.

On their attractive nuisance claim, the Court of Appeals ruled the Palmers failed to show any evidence establishing the trampoline was particularly dangerous to children and that they would not comprehend the danger, nor did they show any evidence that the Bargers knew children may trespass on their property and be injured by the trampoline.

In Richard U. and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, et al., 36A01-0412-CT-36, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision to dismiss the Pflanzes' action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Pflanzes appealed, claiming the trial court erred in determining they did not bring their claim within the applicable statute of limitations.

The Pflanzes purchased Foster's property, where he used to own a Sunoco gas station, and ran a Big O Tires of Seymour on the site. The Pflanzes claim they never knew there were any environmental issues with the site when the Indiana Department of Environmental Management discovered underground storage tanks were causing contamination. The Pflanzes brought a suit against Foster, alleging waste and negligence and sought contribution, attorney fees, and cost for environmental liability; the Pflanzes spent more than $100,000 to clean the site.

The Pflanzes purchased the property in 1978 and the contamination was not discovered until 2001. They argue that the applicable 10-year statute of limitations did not begin until the discovery of contamination or payment of remediation. The Indiana Supreme Court previously ruled that Indiana Code 13-23-13-8, which allows a plaintiff to receive contribution from a previous owner or operator of underground storage tanks if a release occurred during that individual's ownership or operation, has a 10-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court also held the statute of limitations is discovery based and begins to run once the claimant knew or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the damage.

The trial court found that the Pflanzes knew or through exercise of reasonable diligence should have known about the onsite contamination by 1991, when amendments were made to the 1987 Indiana legislation enacted concerning underground storage tanks. The Pflanzes took no action to discover if the tanks on the property were leaking.
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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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