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. 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.