ILNews

Statement in tort claim does not prevent woman from trying to recover for injuries

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Even though a woman originally stated she did not suffer any injuries after her vehicle was rear ended by a police car, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled she can file a subsequent complaint against the municipality and the police department for personal injuries.

In City of Indianapolis v. Rachael Buschman, 49S02-1201-CT-598, the Supreme Court examined the amended statute pertaining to the Indiana Tort Claims Act and concluded the Legislature intentionally removed any requirement pertaining to specifying personal injuries. It affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in Buschman’s favor and remanded for further proceedings.

“It may well be true, as the City argues, that ‘public and legislative policy support requiring notice to political subdivision of the nature of the injury to allow them to investigate and prepare defenses,’ …and that Buschman could have amended her claim once she discovered her injuries,” Justice Mark Massa wrote for the court. “The statute, however, requires neither notice ‘of the nature of the injury’ nor an amended notice. If the legislature wishes to impose either or both of these requirements, it is free to do so. We, however, are not.”

Rachael Buschman was hit by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer in July 2008. In submitting a tort claim notice to the city of Indianapolis, she included a statement that she had not sustained any injuries as a result of the automobile accident.

However, in July 2010, Buschman and her husband filed a complaint against the city and IMPD alleging she had suffered personal injuries because of the officer’s negligence.

The trial court granted the Buschmans’ motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the city argued Buschman’s original tort claim did not comply with the requirement of the Indiana Tort Claims Act because it noted she has suffered no injuries.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed. It reversed the trial court, finding Buschman’s notice did not substantially comply with the requirements of the ITCA.

However, the Supreme Court found Buschman complied with the requirements outlined in Collier V. Prater, 544 N.E.2nd 497, 498 (Ind. 1989): The notice was filed timely, it informed the city that she intended to pursue a claim and it contained details about the accident.

“Although the notice also stated ‘No injuries,’ we note the statute no longer requires any statement regarding injuries, and we do not believe the General Assembly intended to penalize claimants for including information – even information that is ultimately found to be inaccurate – beyond what the statute requires,” Massa wrote.


 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

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  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

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