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COA affirms order Amish connect to sewer system

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a trial court’s decision to deny setting aside agreements several members of the Old Order Amish near Loogootee made to connect to a sewer system and the order that a couple hook up to the system.

West Boggs, a not-for-profit utility, sent notices to Terry and Laura Wagler, Larry and Jennifer Wagler, Norman Wagler, and Janet and Nathan Wagler ordering them to connect to the sewer system by a specific deadline pursuant to Indiana Code 8-1-2-125. The Waglers all hired the same attorney, Marilyn A. Hartman, who worked with Terry and Laura Wagler, Norman Wagler, and Larry and Jennifer Wagler to enter into agreements with the utility to hook up to the system.

But they never hooked up to the system, so West Boggs filed verified motions for rule to show cause. Around this time, Hartman stopped representing the Waglers and Dale W. Arnett became their attorney. The Waglers sought to have the agreements set aside under Ind. Trial Rule 60(B) and claimed that their religious beliefs should prevent them from having to hook up to the system. Larry Wagler testified that he felt like he “had a gun to (his) head” to enter into the agreement.

The trial court denied their motions and also ordered Janet and Nathan Wagler to connect to the system. The Waglers do not belong to the Old Order Amish, according to court records.

The Waglers and West Boggs appealed; West Boggs sought trial attorney fees, which were denied, and appellate attorney fees.

In Terry and Laura Wagler, Larry and Jennifer Wagler, Norman Wagler, and Janet and Nathan Wagler v. West Boggs Sewer District Inc., 14A01-1109-PL-427, the Court of Appeals found many of the Waglers’ arguments weren’t cogent and that they didn’t prove that certain contract doctrines that they argued were applicable actually applied. The Waglers were aware of the requirements of the agreed judgments when they signed them, and the judgments were negotiated by their attorney, Judge Elaine Brown wrote.

Janet and Nathan Wagler argued that I.C. 8-1-2-125(d) allowed them the option to connect, but the judges found that statute only gives the utility the discretion as to whether to require someone to connect. Upon that request, the property owner is required to comply with the utility’s directive, as long as certain requirements are met, which were in this case.

Finally, the court affirmed the denial of attorney fees and the request for appellate attorney fees by West Boggs, finding the Waglers did not litigate or appeal in bad faith.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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