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. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  2. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.

  3. maybe if some of the socia workers would treat the foster parents better, they would continue to fostr.

  4. We have been asked to take in a 2 no old baby because mother is in very unstable situation. We want to do this but will need help with expenses such as medical and formula... Do we have to have custody thru court?

  5. Very troubling. A competent public defender is very much the right of every indigent person in the US or the Fifth amendment becomes meaningless. And considering more and more of us are becoming poorer and poorer under this "system," the need for this are greater than ever.... maybe they should study the Federals and see how they manage their program? And here's to thanking all the PD attorneys out there who do a good job.