ILNews

COA affirms Vectren, Citizens lack of standing

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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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."
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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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