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COA rules on negligence claims in library case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment today in favor of engineering and construction companies in a lawsuit filed by a central Indiana library, finding the economic-loss doctrine bars the library's negligence claims against the companies.

Whether the claims could be pursued because of an exception to the doctrine caused one judge to dissent.

The issue in The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library v. Charlier Clark & Linard, P.C. and Thornton Tomasetti Engineers, et al., No. 06A05-0804-CV-239, is whether the library's negligence claims against the companies as a result of delays and defects in the construction of an expanded central library in downtown Indianapolis are barred under the economic-loss doctrine.

The defendants in this case were hired directly by the architect of record in the project instead of the library, and the library never purchased any services directly from them.

After construction began, major defects were discovered in the underground parking lot that would also serve as structural foundation for the building. The flaws required suspension of work and substantial work to fix the defects. The delays allegedly cost the library nearly $50 million.

The library's suit asserts several claims against the companies, including that they negligently performed their services on the project. The trial court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment because the economic-loss doctrine barred the negligence claims.

The Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed summary judgment in favor of Charlier Clark & Linard on the library's negligence claim. The appellate court looked to Indiana and other jurisdictions' rulings on the economic-loss doctrine. The damages claimed by the library are "economic losses" that arose from the design and construction of the project, and didn't affect other property, so the claims aren't recoverable in tort, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

In regards to the library's argument that it should be able to pursue its negligence claims because of certain exceptions to the doctrine, the appellate court found none were applicable in this case against CCL.

The majority held the claims against Thornton Thomasetti Engineers, which provided structural engineering services for the project, also didn't hold up under any of the exceptions. Judge Elaine Brown dissented because she believed there is a question of fact regarding imminent danger as to TTE and that summary judgment under the economic-loss doctrine was inappropriate.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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