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Appellate court cites claim-splitting, res judicata in rejecting appeal

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In a life insurance case that has spanned eight years, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that an appeal from a widow is without merit.

In Bonita G. Hilliard, in her capacity as Trustee of the H. David and Bonita G. Hilliard Living Trust v. Timothy E. Jacobs, No. 28A04-1106-CT-284, Bonita Hilliard appeals the trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Timothy Jacobs.

Bonita Hilliard’s husband, David, and Jacobs were business partners from 1997 until they sold their company in 2002. In 1999, the two men executed a cross-purchase agreement that required each of them to take out a life insurance policy so that if one partner died, the other could use insurance policy proceeds to buy out the other’s interest in the company.

After the sale of the company, David Hilliard suggested that he and Jacobs swap policies; Jacobs declined and continued paying premiums, but David Hilliard stopped paying premiums for the policy on Jacobs.

David Hilliard filed suit in 2003, requesting the trial court to order Jacobs to terminate the policy or transfer it to David Hilliard. He allegedly feared for his life and did not assert all his claims of relief, hoping for a speedy trial. The court granted judgment in favor of David Hilliard, but the COA later reversed that decision, finding nothing in the cross-purchase agreement to warrant termination of the policy Jacobs owned. David Hilliard died in 2004. In this most recent appeal, his widow contends the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Jacobs.

The COA affirmed the trial court, holding that Bonita Hilliard’s claims are barred by res judicata. By withholding legal theories of relief and evidence, she has engaged in claim splitting in an effort to allow herself another chance to litigate her claims, the appellate court wrote.

 

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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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