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COA orders continuation of insurer’s case against tenant

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Because Indiana law does not currently preclude a landlord’s insurer from bringing a subrogation claim against a tenant and a landlord’s complaint established a set of circumstances under which it would be entitled to relief, the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of a tenant’s motion to dismiss. The landlord’s insurer filed a subrogation action against the tenant after a fire started on her patio.

Hillary Mannia lived in Summer Place Apartments in Granger. In July 2010, a fire caused nearly $745,000 in damage at the apartments. LBM Realty, owners of the apartments, sued Mannia, alleging breach of contract and negligence in that she “carelessly and improperly disposed of smoking materials by placing same in a plastic bottle and in close proximity to the vinyl siding on the balcony patio wall of the leased premises …” or allowed guests to do the same.

Mannia filed a Trial Rule 12(B)(6) motion to dismiss LBM’s insurer’s action – which was filed in LBM’s name – to recoup the money it paid for the property damage. She wanted the trial court to adopt the “no-subrogation” or implied co-insured approach, which absent an express agreement, would find the tenant is presumed to be co-insured under the landlord’s policy. LBM claimed that the lease contained language suggesting Mannia bore the risk of the loss for her negligence.

The trial court granted her motion to dismiss, adopting the no-subrogation approach.

“Despite the current state of Indiana law that permits insurers to bring a subrogation claim against a tenant, the trial court did not test LBM’s complaint against the backdrop of the law as it existed. Instead, the trial court adopted the no-subrogation approach, thereby precluding LMB’s claims against Mannia. It seems that the trial court put the proverbial cart before the horse by first adopting a rule precluding subrogation claims against tenants and then reviewing LBM’s complaint in light of that newly adopted rule,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote in LBM Realty, LLC, d/b/a Summer Place Apartments v. Hillary Mannia, 71A03-1205-PL-231.

“Whether the no-subrogation approach, pro-subrogation approach, or case-by-case approach should be adopted in this State is a matter we leave for another day as the facts in this case are limited at this juncture of the proceedings and have not been developed enough to enable a meaningful review of the issue,” he continued, ordering the case to continue for further proceedings.

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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