ILNews

Court: private cause of action allowed

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Tackling an issue of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals determined the "Equal Access Law" in Indiana Code creates a private cause of action for bail agents.

In Dave Galloway in his capacity as Hendricks County Sheriff v. David Hadley, d/b/a D & D Bonding, No. 32A-04-0707-CV-400, Galloway appealed the trial court order granting Hadley a preliminary injunction against the use of a "preferred agent list" by the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department. The list contains the names of preferred bail agents, and at the request of an arrestee, an officer can contact an agent on the arrestee's behalf by using the list.

For years, Hadley, a licensed bondsman, was on this list; however, once Galloway took office as sheriff, Hadley's name was removed. The new preferred agent list only contained the names of bail agents who had made financial contributions to Galloway's political committee during his 2006 campaign. When Hadley discovered he was no longer on the list, he filed a complaint and sought a preliminary injunction against the use of the list.

At a hearing, Galloway testified he had learned from jail officers that Hadley wasn't on the list because he won't write bonds for African-Americans or Hispanics. Hadley said his insurance carrier prevents him from issuing bail for illegal immigrants. Hadley testified his business had sustained a dramatic reduction in volume since his name was taken off the list.

The court issued the injunctive order that prevented Galloway from using the preferred agent list.

In a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeals had to decide whether the Equal Access Law creates a private cause of action, which would allow the trial court subject-matter jurisdiction to hear Hadley's complaint.

Indiana's Equal Access Law, I.C. 27-10-3-18, states: "A person who holds a valid bail agent's license issued by the insurance commissioner and registered as required in section 17 of this chapter may have equal access to the jails of this state for the purpose of making bond, subject to this article and rules adopted under this article."

A statute creates a private cause of action when a statute imposes a duty for a particular individual's benefit, but not when the duty is for the public's benefit, wrote Judge Edward Najam. However, if the public receives an ancillary benefit when the duty is for an individual's benefit, it will not preclude a private cause of action. In this instance, the Equal Access Law doesn't explicitly state whether it confers a public or private benefit. The Court of Appeals ruled it confers a private benefit to bail agents, but the public does receive benefit as well, so Hadley can bring his private cause of action.

Galloway argued private causes of action can't be brought because the Indiana Department of Insurance has the authority to enforce Indiana's Bail Law, and when a statute includes a specific enforcement provision, a private cause of action cannot occur. However, the IDOI's jurisdiction doesn't pertain to the enforcement of the Equal Access Law, wrote Judge Najam, so Hadley's private cause of action is allowable.

The Court of Appeals also affirmed the grant of the preliminary injunction on the use of the preferred agent list. The trial court found that Hadley satisfied all of the requirements for a preliminary injunction, including that Hadley suffered irreparable harm, and there is a threat of continuing injury and harm if the injunction is not ordered.

Galloway argued Hadley wasn't denied access to the jail, the trial court abused its discretion in finding Hadley suffered irreparable harm, the court erroneously concluded no harm would befall Galloway should the injunction incur, the court abused its discretion in ruling public interest would be served by granting the injunction, and Hadley cannot seek injunctive relief because he has unclean hands.

The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by Galloway's arguments on each of the challenges he raised. In regards to Galloway's unclean hands argument, Judge Najam wrote that even though Hadley had once been a part of the preferred agent list it does not mean he has unclean hands. While Hadley's position is hypocritical in that he now has a problem with the use of the list, hypocrisy is not a cognizable legal issue.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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