Man must reinstate original complaints for lawsuits to proceed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday that a man with a propensity to sue over purchases made online may not file a new lawsuit in Marion County after a similar one was dismissed without prejudice.

Gersh Zavodnik filed 27 lawsuits against people living in five states and 10 countries from 2008 through 2010 in an attempt to “make his living by filing lawsuits … against individuals he alleges caused him damages by failing to complete Internet sales purchases,” according to the court opinion. Two of those defendants were Giselle Guzman and Brian Richards.

The 27 lawsuits were consolidated by Judge Timothy Oakes in Marion Superior Court; 24 of the lawsuits were dismissed without prejudice, including those against Guzman and Richards. About a year later, he filed new lawsuits against Guzman and Richards and added Steve Panayiotou as a co-defendant. The allegations in the new complaints were the same as those originally dismissed. Judge David Dreyer dismissed the lawsuits and denied motions to correct error.

In Gersh Zavodnik v. Brian Richards and a/k/a Savva's Golf Enterprises a/k/a and, Steve Panayiotov a/k/a Steve Panayiotou a/k/a Savva Panayiotou, 49A02-1209-CC-750, the Court of Appeals affirmed, citing Thacker v. Barlett, 785 N.E.2d 621 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003). That case was similar and dealt with a dismissal under Trial Rule 12(B)(6) for failing to state a cause of action.

“Much like Trial Rule 12(B), we conclude that when a trial court has involuntarily dismissed a case without prejudice pursuant to Trial Rule 41(E), subsection (F) of that rule ascribes to the dismissing trial court the discretion to consider whether a complaint should be reinstated,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote. “We also presume that the Indiana Supreme Court, in drafting Trial Rule 41, did not intend to place a nullity in the rule by adding subsection (F)’s explicit procedure for how to go about reinstatement of a complaint dismissed without prejudice. Zavodnik’s position, that such complaints can be re-filed in a different court without following the reinstatement procedure, would render that provision meaningless.

“By re-filing complaints before Judge Dreyer that were substantially similar, if not identical, to complaints that Judge Oakes had already dismissed, Zavodnik was improperly attempting to circumvent Judge Oakes’s authority and discretion to decide whether Zavodnik had good cause to reinstate his original complaint(s). Judge Dreyer apparently recognized this and acted properly in dismissing the re-filed complaints, which dismissal served the interests of fairness to litigants, judicial comity, and judicial efficiency.”

Zavodnik must obtain reinstatement of his original complaints before Oakes if he wants to pursue his legal action against the parties.


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  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

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