COA clarifies and affirms original opinion in environmental cleanup case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the request of the city of Indianapolis and the Department of Environmental Management to take another look at its opinion issued in April that allowed businesses that neighbored a contaminated property to intervene in the cleanup case. But the judges affirmed the court’s original decision in all respects.

In the April decision, the appellate court addressed the effect of the simultaneous trial court proceedings and administrative proceedings before the Office of Environmental Adjudications regarding the same issue. IDEM and the city brought civil actions against Ertel Manufacturing, which resulted in an administrative settlement agreement and a settlement approved by the court.

Threaded Rod Co. and Moran Electric Service Inc., which had property located near the contaminated Ertel site, sought to intervene in the trial court action against Ertel. The Court of Appeals allowed the companies to intervene and held the trial court should retain jurisdiction over the entire case until the OEA reaches a final decision on the companies’ pending administrative petitions regarding a no further action letter.  Then, the trial court should make a decision regarding the disbursement to the city of remaining escrow funds.

In Moran Electric Service, Inc., and Threaded Rod Company, Inc. v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, City of Indianapolis, Ertel Manufacturing Corp., 49A02-1305-MI-432, IDEM and Indianapolis argue that the judges misinterpreted the trial court’s role in this action. They argue the trial court could not order the release of the escrow funds. But the trial court did approve the settlement agreement, and so their argument fails under the doctrine of invited error.

The judges found that IDEM and the city have misplaced reliance on I.C. 13-25-4-23 because the statute does not allow IDEM to perform remedial actions and obtain damages from a party through an administrative order.

Finally, the judges noted it did not matter if they mischaracterized Threaded Rod and Moran as “adjacent property owners,” because the opinion also noted that they were “former or current owners of adjacent properties.” Regardless of the language, they are subject to possible liability for the contaminants on those properties, the judges held.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.