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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.