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COA split on whether judgment on pleadings was proper

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In a lawsuit against an attorney, law firm and the firm’s insurer, the Indiana Court of Appeals was divided in its ruling over whether the trial court correctly granted the insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Jason Tye Myers filed a lawsuit against Charles R. Deets III for fraud, and named his former partner Edward L. Kennedy, law firm Deets & Kennedy, and Great American Insurance Group as parties. Myers hired Deets – who was deceased when the suit was filed – for a criminal matter and Deets didn’t return a portion of a retainer fee after Myers fired him in 2005. Myers filed his lawsuit, which claimed fraud and constructive fraud, in 2011. He believed Kennedy, the law firm and the insurer were liable for the debt.

Great American moved for judgment on the pleadings; Kennedy and the law firm moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted both motions following a hearing.

The appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Kennedy and the law firm, finding Myers didn’t prove there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Deets and Kennedy were partners at any time relevant to Myers’ complaint. As a result, he’s unable to show that either Kennedy or the firm is liable for Kennedy’s alleged fraudulent conduct.

Judge Edward Najam and Carr Darden reversed the grant of Great American’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that Myers’ complaint is sufficient to seek relief by way of a declaratory judgment. While his complaint doesn’t expressly seek a declaratory judgment on the question of insurance coverage, the assertion of a specific theory in a complaint isn’t required under notice pleading, wrote Najam in Jason Tye Myers v. Charles R. Deets III, Deets & Kennedy, and Great American Insurance Group, No. 79A02-1108-CT-77. Myers stated facts that would support a declaratory judgment action.

Judge Patricia Riley dissented on this point, writing that Myers’ complaint contemplates a direct action against the law firm, not a declaratory judgment. At no point does Myers try to seek a declaration that the insurance policy is in effect; instead he seeks reimbursement of his retainer fee. She doesn’t see any circumstances which would grant Myers relief.

 

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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