ILNews

COA affirms Vectren, Citizens lack of standing

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a breach-of-contract complaint filed by Vectren Energy and Citizens By-products Coal Co. against Executive Risk Specialty Insurance, finding the two companies never had standing to file the complaint because they are trying to fix alleged wrongdoings done to another company, rather than themselves.

In Vectren Energy Marketing & Service, Inc., et al. v. Executive Risk Specialty Insurance Co., ProLiance Energy, LLC, et al., 82A05-0702-CV-115, Vectren and Citizens appealed the trial court's order granting Executive Risk Specialty Insurance Company's (ERISC) motion to dismiss its complaint pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6). Vectren and Citizens argue they have standing to pursue the complaint, their claim is not barred by collateral estoppel, and they have sufficiently pleaded a breach of contract claim against ERISC to withstand the motion to dismiss.

Vectren and Citizens are the only two members of ProLiance, an energy trading company. All three companies have a policy through ERSIC. The City of Huntsville, Ala., filed a complaint against ProLiance and two of its employees, and a jury found ProLiance and the two employees liable for violations, fraud, breach of contract, and other issues. Based on the finding of the jury and the final judgment of $32 million in favor of the city, ERSIC denied coverage to ProLiance and the employees.

ProLiance's policy states that no coverage will be available for loss when a claim was brought by knowing, intentional, dishonest, fraudulent, or criminal wrongful acts by the insured.

ERISC filed a complaint against ProLiance and the two employees in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. In response, Vectren and Citizens filed a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit to protect their purported interests. Vectren and Citizens were not named as defendants in the original lawsuit by Huntsville, they did not attempt to intervene to protect their interests in the policy, nor was any judgment entered against them.

ERISC filed a motion to dismiss Vectren's complaint stating the two companies didn't have standing to assert any claims against ERISC; the trial court dismissed Vectren and Citizen's complaint.

Chief Judge John Baker wrote in the opinion that the court found no authority establishing that Vectren and Citizen's have standing to pursue a breach-of-contract claim against ERISC based on contractual duties owed to ProLiance. Vectren and Citizens did not suffer a loss as defined by the policy as a result of the City of Huntsville's lawsuit against ProLiance, nor has either company received a claim and incurred damages, judgments, or settlements as a result of a claim. Vectren and Citizens have no personal stake in the outcome of the litigation between ERISC and ProLiance because "any loss which Vectren and Citizens will purportedly suffer would merely be derivative as a result of their relationship to ProLiance."
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

ADVERTISEMENT