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In environmental suit, court properly vacated ruling for Bloomington dry cleaner

August 28, 2012

A Bloomington dry cleaner lost his appeal of a court’s order that vacated a prior ruling granting partial summary judgment in the businessman’s favor.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed a Monroe Circuit Court ruling in which 10th and The Bypass LLC sued James T. Mitchell, claiming Mitchell and Elway Inc. had caused environmental damage while running a dry cleaning business on the site.

In January 2010, the court granted Mitchell’s request for partial summary judgment. The LLC later asked the court to vacate that motion after presenting evidence from a former employee who testified to chemical spills, and the court vacated its earlier order.

“In sum, in this case the trial court entered two correct judgments. When the court entered the January order, the designated evidence did not demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to Mitchell’s liability, and the court properly granted partial summary judgment for him as a matter of law,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the unanimous panel in James T. Mitchell v. 10th and the Bypass, LLC, and Elway, Inc., 53A01-1112-PL-593.

“But because the judgment was and remained interlocutory, after the LLC tendered new evidence that established a genuine issue of material fact on the question of Mitchell’s personal liability, the trial court properly exercised its discretion to vacate the January order and reinstate Mitchell as a defendant. … We hold that the court’s Order to Vacate was not reversible error.”  
 
 

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