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Circuit certifies question for Supreme Court

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded an Indiana statute dealing with salvage titles is ambiguous and it should be up to the state's highest court to interpret it.

In Larry D. Storie v. Randy's Auto Sales, LLC, et al., No. 09-1675, the Circuit Court certified the question of whether an entity that buys and later sells a wrecked vehicle is required to apply for a salvage title under Indiana Code Section 9-22-3-11(e) when it no longer owns the vehicle when it receives the certificate of title.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence of the Southern District of Indiana ruled no and granted summary judgment in favor of Randy's Auto Sales in Storie's lawsuit against the dealer. Judge Lawrence found a lack of continuing ownership absolved an acquiring person of any obligation to apply for a salvage title when it receives the certificate of title.

Storie bought a truck that had been involved in a fatal accident in 2003 in Indiana. St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co., the insurer of the truck, applied for a title as proof of ownership but didn't apply for a salvage title. The truck was sold several times - including by Randy's in Indiana - before St. Paul finally received the title. Storie purchased the truck from a truck center in Missouri. When Randy's received the title from St. Paul, it forwarded it on to the purchaser of the truck, which made its way to Storie.

When Storie learned the truck was involved in the fatal accident, he brought a suit against Randy's in federal court in the Southern District of Indiana. He believed Randy's violated I.C. Section 9-22-3-11(e), which says "Any other person acquiring a wrecked or damaged motor vehicle ... which acquisition is not evidenced by a certificate of salvage title, shall apply to the bureau within thirty-one (31) days after receipt of the certificate of title for a certificate of salvage title."

Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy noted the statute in question is "not a model of clarity" and competing interpretations of the statute means it's ambiguous. The Circuit Court ruled the present case turns on the meaning of the statute and certified the issue to the Indiana Supreme Court to interpret.

"Since we decline to follow (Riha v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co.) and (Storie v. Duckett Truck Center Inc.) and because we conclude that Randy's was properly subject to the provisions of the Indiana salvage title, the interpretation of Ind. Code § 9-22-3-11(e) is determinative of the present case," wrote Judge Cudahy. "Since there is no clear controlling Indiana precedent, it is appropriate to certify this issue to the Supreme Court of Indiana under both Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 64 and our Circuit Rule 52."

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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