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COA reverses trial court in estate case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment to parties whose attorney did not notify opposing counsel that a motion had been filed.

In George Clements v. Kimberly Hall and Stanley Harmon, No. 06A04-1106-MI-282, George Clements appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Kimberly Hall and Stanley Harmon. Clements, Hall and Harmon were all due to receive property, as outlined in Arthur and Mary Lou Clements’ trust.

Arthur and Mary Lou Clements died in 2006 and 2008, and in July 2010, George Clements filed a personal representative’s deed as executive of the estate of Arthur Clements, deeding property to himself for $10. In August, Hall and Harmon’s attorney, Arvin Foland, filed an appearance and claim for quiet title, constructive trust and partition of the property, contending the deed George Clements filed was improper. Hall and Harmon argued the deed should be deemed a cloud upon the title to the property and that the property should be held in constructive trust until it could be sold and the proceeds divided.  

The court entered an order granting summary judgment for Hall and Harmon and disposing of the case. Nothing in the record indicates Clements or his attorney were served with the motion for summary judgment or received notice of any proceedings on the motion.

Clements then filed a motion for relief from judgment, and the trial court denied it.

Hall and Harmon contend their attorney discussed the claim with Clements’ attorney, but they did not say that Foland served Clements or his attorney with the motion for summary judgment or in any way notified Clements when it was filed.

The Court of Appeals held that Foland knew Clements had an attorney and was therefore obligated to provide notice. Accordingly, it reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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