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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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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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