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COA: More proceedings are needed on parents’ ITCA compliance

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Finding a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Richmond parents’ complied with the Indiana Tort Claims Act notice provision when filing a lawsuit after their severely disabled daughter died at school, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered that issue to go before a jury.

Michael and Denita Lyons’ 17-year-old daughter Megan attended Richmond High School. She had Down syndrome and was severely mentally disabled, according to court records. She required around-the-clock care and someone to cut her food up. She choked on a sandwich while at school on Jan. 2, 2009, was deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes, and died two days later.

The Lyonses sued Richmond Community School Corporation under the ITCA and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging the school’s acts or omissions caused their daughter’s death. The trial court granted summary judgment to RCSC on the issues of compliance with ITCA’s notice provision and contributory negligence, as well as on the Section 1983 claims. The parents didn’t file their notice of tort claim until Jan. 11, 2010, and their lawsuit until June 8, 2010. They claim that they had no knowledge of the school’s negligence until a cafeteria worker contacted them in October 2009 and said “things were not done properly.”  

“The proper question, therefore, is: in the exercise of ordinary diligence, could the Lyonses have learned of RCSC’s alleged acts or omissions before July 15, 2009, which was 180 days before the Lyonses filed notice of their claims on January 11, 2010? This question is not resolved by the designated evidence, and therefore, it remains a genuine issue of material fact for the jury’s determination,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in Michael E. Lyons, Denita L. Lyons, individually and as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Megan Renee Lyons, Deceased v. Richmond Community School Corp. d/b/a Richmond High School; Joe Spicer; et al., 89A04-1204-PL-159.

The judges found many of the Lyonses’ other claims on appeal failed, including that the trial court erred in quashing their third-party discovery requests against RCSC’s insurance company and in granting RCSC summary judgment on the issue of contributory negligence.

“I believe many of the things that raise a question of fact as to when the Lyonses should have discovered their cause of action also raise a question of fact as to whether RCSC was fraudulently concealing material facts concerning the Lyonses’ cause of action,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in a separate opinion.

She also dissented from the majority’s decision affirming the grant of summary judgment on the Lyonses’ Section 1983 claims regarding the school corporation’s liability.   

 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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