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COA adopts Restatement (Third) of Torts Section 14

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in concluding a new trial is warranted to determine allocation of fault in a man’s murder. At issue is the percentage of fault to allocate to a criminal defendant and his former employer.

In Mary E. Santelli, as Administrator of the Estate of James F. Santelli v. Abu M. Rahmatullah, Individually and d/b/a Super 8 Motel, No. 49A04-1011-CT-704, the estate of James F. Santelli filed a suit against Abu M. Rahmatullah, arguing he had breached his duty of care to Santelli by hiring Joseph Pryor, giving him a master keycard to the motel without running a criminal background check, and failing to provide proper security to the motel. After he left his job with the hotel, Pryor broke into the room Santelli was staying in and murdered him. Rahmatullah asserted a nonparty defense, naming Pryor as a nonparty defendant.

The jury allocated one percent fault to Santelli, two percent to Rahmatullah, and 97 percent to Pryor and entered a verdict in favor of the estate for $41,400 – the portion of the damages award for which Rahmatullah was liable. The estate filed a motion to correct error and sought a new trial, claiming the trial court erred by instructing the jury to allocate fault among Santelli, Rahmatullah and Pryor without also instructing the jury on the very duty doctrine. The trial court set aside the verdict with respect to allocation of fault.

The COA concluded that the very duty doctrine is not abrogated by the Indiana Tort Claims Act, and at trial, the judge should instruct the jury on the very duty doctrine, as set forth in Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 449. The judges also decided to adopt Section 14 of Restatement (Third) of Torts, entitled “Tortfeasor Liable For Failure To Protect The Plaintiff From The Specific Risk Of An Intentional Tort,” holding that it would enable a jury to determine fault in a manner that will carry out the goal of adequately compensating the injured party.

The issue is remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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