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COA: findings don't support attorney fees

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The Indiana Court of Appeals remanded a case today involving attorney fees - the appellate court questioned whether the Indiana High School Athletic Association was trying to dissuade appeals by athletes - because the findings of the case currently don't support the judgment.

In Indiana High School Athletic Association Inc. v. Gregory S. Schafer and Shane Schafer, No. 37A03-0811-CV-560, the appellate court considered the award of attorney fees to the Schafers from a 1991 case in which Shane Schafer appealed the IHSAA's decision he was ineligible to play basketball during the 1991-1992 school year. Schafer became ill during his junior year in 1990 and withdrew from school shortly after the end of the regular basketball season in 1991. His high school allowed him to repeat his entire junior year in the fall 1991. He asked the IHSAA to not count the 1990-1991 school year against him, which the organization denied. The trial court eventually granted Schafer's motion for declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the rules IHSAA applied to him and enjoined the IHSAA from ruling him ineligible or punishing his high school. The trial court concluded the IHSAA rules were overly broad, arbitrary, and capricious.

The trial court granted Shafer's request for attorney fees on the grounds that during the declaratory judgment period the IHSAA continued to litigate a defense that was frivolous, unreasonable, and capricious.

The appellate court determined that the record before it didn't allow it to uphold Shafer's award of attorney fees because the trial court's findings of fact don't support such a conclusion, wrote Judge Melissa May. The judges declined to hold the litigation as necessarily frivolous or unreasonable just because an administrative rule that is the subject of the litigation is eventually determined to be arbitrary, capricious, or unconstitutional, she wrote.

"We are unable to affirm the award of attorney fees because the trial court's findings do not support its judgment. But our result on that narrow ground must not be interpreted to condone IHSAA's actions ..." the judge continued.

The appellate court has disapproved of similar litigation tactics employed in the past by the IHSAA, with the judge citing Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Vasario, 726 N.E.2d 325, 335 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), and now-Chief Judge John Baker's dissent from that case.

"The case before us raises the same concerns that the IHSAA is trying 'to send a message to parents and student athletes in Indiana about the great risk and expense involved in challenging a ruling, and thus discourage them from appealing a denial of eligibility,'" Judge May wrote regarding the instant case.

The Court of Appeals remanded so the trial court could further consider and explain its judgment with regard to its conclusion on the attorney fee issue.

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  1. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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