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COA split on which statute of limitation applies

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split today in its decision as to whether Indiana's two-year statute of limitations for personal injury torts or the three-year statute of limitations under the Federal Employers' Liability Act applied in a man's FELA claim in state court.
 
The majority ruled the three-year statute of limitations under the FELA applied in the instant case.

In Steven A. Januchowski v. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, No. 64A03-0806-CV-330, the appellate court had to decide which statute of limitation applies in suits in Indiana against political subdivisions such as the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, where issues of sovereign immunity come into play. It's already been settled the FELA statute of limitations applies over state statute in suits against private entities.
 
Steven Januchowski worked for NICTD and was injured on the job. His complaint in state court was filed a little over two years after he was injured.
 
The trial court ruled Indiana's general two-year statute of limitations for torts applied rather than the FELA statute of limitations because suits against governmental entities must be brought in compliance with the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of NICTD.

The ITCA doesn't explicitly state which statute of limitation applies in this case, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik, although another part of Indiana Code refers to the general statute of limitation for torts, which is two years. The majority found the omission of the statute of limitations to be significant, given the legislature has inserted specific statute of limitations into other acts. Because it doesn't expressly contain a statute of limitation, the majority disagreed with NICTD's argument the two-year statute of limitations applies to all tort claims against the state no matter what the claim.

"Because we are to treat governmental entities like private entities unless the ITCA commands otherwise and the ITCA does not do so here, we will apply FELA to NICTD as if it were a private entity," wrote the judge. "As discussed above, FELA's three-year statute of limitation is regarded as a substantive right. Having complied with the three-year statute of limitation, Januchowski's suit may proceed."

In his dissent, Judge Carr Darden wrote because Januchowski chose to proceed with his FELA claim in state court instead of federal court, he should have complied with the Indiana procedural statute providing for a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Even though the ITCA contains no express statute of limitation provision, that ignores Indiana Code Section 34-11-2-4, which gives two years for personal injury claims. The majority also ignored the long-standing principle that statutes addressing the same subject are in pari materia and to be read in harmony if possible, he wrote.

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  1. 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.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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