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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. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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