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New Castle denied appellate legal fees in frivolous suit

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A New Castle couple doesn’t have to pay the city’s appellate legal fees in its appeal of a frivolous litigation ruling, but they still must pay New Castle’s legal bills for the trial court filing.

Paul and Kathy Gillock sued the city of New Castle, claiming its storm-water drainage system caused flooding that damaged their property, but they didn’t pursue the litigation and ultimately moved to dismiss it.

Henry Circuit Senior Judge Rex Reed subsequently granted the city’s motion for attorney fees on the grounds the suit was frivolous, not made in good faith, and not prosecuted after filing. Reed ordered the Gillocks to pay New Castle $2,144.05 in legal fees.

The Gillocks appealed, and the city also asked for costs of defending the appellate suit, Paul Gillock and Kathy Gillock v. City of New Castle, Indiana, 33A01-1308-CT-338. A panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed Reed’s award of attorney fees, but concluded, “the Gillocks’ appeal was not utterly devoid of all plausibility, and therefore deny the City’s request for appellate attorney’s fees and costs.”

Judge Terry Crone rejected the city’s claim that because the original suit was deemed frivolous, the appeal is likewise without merit. “We cannot agree,” Crone wrote. “That would essentially bar all appeals of attorney’s fees awarded on such grounds. … Accordingly, we deny the City’s request for appellate attorney’s fees.”
 

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