ILNews

COA panel to consider public access

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A three-judge Indiana Court of Appeals panel wants to know why parties have not submitted what it calls "a meaningful public access set of briefs" related to product-liability claims against Indianapolis-based Guidant Corp.

The state's second highest appellate court has a public hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. March 25 in Allianz Insurance Co., et al. v. Guidant Corp., et al., No. 49A05-0704-CV-216, where judges will consider the balance of public interest for access with the need for restricting access relating to the Marion County case.

According to one of the attorneys representing Guidant, the case goes back to product-liability claims on an implantable device to treat life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysms. The appellate court last year consolidated more than one issue into this appeal and ordered the parties to submit two sets of briefs: a public access set and another confidential set that would remain sealed and only accessible to the judges and the attorneys involved.

A trial judge had granted partial summary judgment for Guidant relating to the duty to defend, and that is the main issue on appeal, attorney George Plews said. He said when insurers first filed briefs in the case, briefs lacked any substantive information and did not include much more than a table of contents and applicable caselaw. Guidant followed suit when filing its own briefs, he said. The parties were complying with a protective order issued by the trial judge against releasing certain information in the product-liability case, Plews said.

But the motion panel's July 17, 2007, order wasn't followed concerning the public briefs, and now the parties must show cause as to why sanctions shouldn't be imposed for failing to comply. The court is also now directing the parties to the Indiana Supreme Court ruling in Palmer v. Comprehensive Neurologic Services, P.C., et al., No 32A01-0512-CV-553, from June 27, 2007, which states "as a general proposition, court records are accessible to the public unless excluded from public access by a provision of Rule 9(g)(2)."

Plews said they didn't intend to make the court unhappy and were complying with instructions from the court. Attorneys listed for Allianz in the case - Brian Paul in Indianapolis and Lazar Raynal in Chicago - could not be reached for comment today.

The panel hearing Tuesday's arguments is Chief Judge John Baker, and Judges Patricia Riley and Melissa May. Arguments will be in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom.
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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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