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Opinions Dec. 17, 2013

December 17, 2013
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Indiana Supreme Court
Indiana Gas Company, Inc. and Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company, et al v. Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Gasification, LLC
93S02-1306-EX-407
Agency action. Affirms the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s approval of a contract between Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Gasification, LLC that obligates the state to purchase synthetic natural gas that would be produced at a coal-gasification plant in Rockport. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals had invalidated the contract, but justices agreed that the IURC’s decision should be affirmed because the parties modified the disputed portion of the contract.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc. v. Gregory S. Schafer and Shane Schafer b/n/f Gregory S. Schafer
37A03-1303-CP-86
Civil plenary. Affirms award of more than $86,000 in fees to the Schafers for IHSAA’s unreasonable conduct in pursuing litigation after courts repeatedly called rules it sought to enforce to declare Schafer ineligible arbitrary and capricious. The trial court was within its discretion to hold IHSAA’s conduct unreasonable and consider multiple rulings against IHSAA in reaching the decision to impose fees.

Jason Young v. Hood's Gardens, Inc.
29A02-1303-PL-298
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Hood’s that it was not secondarily liable for payment of workers’ compensation benefits to Young. Judge James Kirsch dissents, arguing Hood’s did not establish that the value of services provided by Young’s boss did not exceed $1,000.

Indiana Restorative Dentistry, P.C. v. The Laven Insurance Agency, Inc., and Proassurance Indemnity Company, Inc. f/k/a The Medical Assurance Company, Inc.
49A05-1212-PL-627
Civil plenary. Reverses grant of summary judgment in favor of Laven and Proassurance, holding that Laven had a special duty to procure full coverage based on its past dealings with IRD. Remands to the trial court to enter summary judgment to IRD with respect to Laven’s duty to advise and procure, and remands for proceedings regarding Proassurance’s vicarious liability.

Christopher D. Bunch v. State of Indiana (NFP)
79A02-1303-CR-227
Criminal. Affirms Bunch’s 80-year executed sentence for pleading guilty to five counts of child molesting, each as a Class A felony.

In the Matter of the Commitment of T.G. (NFP)
19A05-1306-MH-303
Mental health. Affirms regular mental health commitment order.

Kelly S. Craig v. State of Indiana (NFP)
63A05-1209-PC-494
Post conviction. Affirms denial of Craig’s petition for post-conviction relief.

Carl E. Ascherman v. State of Indiana (NFP)
15A01-1305-CR-237
Criminal. Affirms Ascherman’s 20-year executed sentence following a conviction for one count of attempted child molesting, a Class B felony, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Class A misdemeanors.

Ayanna Earls v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1304-CR-364
Criminal. Affirms conviction for battery, a Class A misdemeanor.

Christopher Turner v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1304-PC-168
Post conviction. Affirms denial of Turner’s petition for post-conviction relief.

Donald L. Deputy v. Connie S. Deputy (NFP)
30A04-1303-DR-108
Domestic relation. Affirms order that father pay for son’s college room and board. Reverses order that father maintain health insurance and health care costs on children and remands for the order to be amended that the duty to maintain health care coverage is contingent upon his children remaining enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution. Judge Elaine Brown concurs in part and dissents in part.  

Adam S. Fiers v. State of Indiana (NFP)
85A04-1306-CR-320
Criminal. Affirms revocation of Fiers’ probation and sentencing him to serve six months on work release for failing to meet the financial obligations of his probation.

The Indiana Tax Court posted no opinions by IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana opinions by IL deadline.

 

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  2. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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