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Split COA reverses trial court in personal injury case

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Two Indiana Court of Appeals judges reversed a trial court’s denial of a woman’s motion for prejudgment interest in a case stemming from a car crash.

In Margaret Kosarko v. William A. Padula, Administrator of the Estate of Daniel L. Herndobler, Deceased, No. 45A03-1012-CT-668, Margaret Kosarko and Daniel Herndobler were in an auto accident. Herndobler died while Kosarko’s case against him was still pending. Kosarko served William Padula – the administrator of Herndobler’s estate – with a settlement offer in 2008 in the amount of $100,000. Padula did not accept the offer.

The case was presented to a jury, which returned a verdict in favor of Kosarko in the amount of $210,000. Subsequently, Kosarko filed a motion for prejudgment interest. After a hearing, the trial court denied Kosarko’s motion, concluding that her damages, as determined by the jury in this case, were not ascertainable within a time frame that justified granting her motion for prejudgment interest.

The COA held that prejudgment interest is allowable when the damages are capable of being determined by reference to some known standard, such as fair market value. The appellate court found no indication that Kosarko’s increased medical expenses were unnecessary, fraudulent or unrelated to the automobile accident, nor did it find evidence that Kosarko unduly delayed the surgery that caused the largest increase in her medical costs. It therefore reversed, holding Kosarko is entitled to $79,627.40 in prejudgment interest.

Judge Melissa May dissented, holding that the majority concluded that “Padula had ample opportunity to evaluate the known dollar cost of the dispute and consider settlement” in the year that elapsed between March 2009, when Padula learned of Kosarko’s back surgery, and the March 2010 trial. But May wrote that the majority did not explain how that conclusion is relevant to whether Kosarko’s damages were ascertainable during the 30 days in 2008 when Kosarko’s Qualified Settlement Offer was valid. May wrote that she would affirm the trial court’s denial of Kosarko’s motion.

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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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