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COA split over whether damages are punitive

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The Indiana Court of Appeals released a divided opinion Wednesday on the issue of whether damages awarded under the Indiana Sales Representative Act are punitive in nature. The majority affirmed the trial court’s ruling that damages awarded under the Act would be subject to the evidentiary standard, limitation and diversion provisions of Indiana’s punitive damages statute.

Ralph Andrews sued Mor/Ryde International for breach of contract, alleging the company materially breached the agreement and had done so in an “egregious manner.” Andrews worked as an independent sales representative who performed services on behalf of the company from 1996 until Mor/Ryde terminated the agreement in 2008.

The trial court ruled that the ISRA applied to Andrews’ claim, and it issued an order following a pleading from Mor/Ryde that the exemplary damages awarded under the Act are punitive in nature, and subject to the procedures outlined in I.C. 34-51-3-2 and -6, the punitive damages statutes, including the requirement of proof by clear and convincing evidence.

On interlocutory appeal in Ralph Andrews v. MOR/Ryde International, Inc., 20A04-1303-PL-141, Judges Rudolph Pyle III and Terry Crone affirmed the trial court, noting that the term “exemplary” as used in the Act, as it refers to damages, is also defined as “punitive damages” by Black’s Law Dictionary. The majority held that if the Legislature intended that the damages awarded under the Act were to be something other than punitive in nature, it could have specifically exempted those damages from the requirements of I.C. 35-51-3-1, et. seq., Pyle wrote.

“Therefore, when a plaintiff has alleged bad faith under the Act, the plaintiff must show bad faith by clear and convincing evidence, and any exemplary damages awarded are subject to the requirements of I.C. § 35-51-3-1 et. seq.,” he wrote.

Judge Michael Barnes dissented because he didn’t believe that the general statutes and principles governing “punitive” damages control an express statutory award of “exemplary” damages under the Act, even if those two words are sometimes used interchangeably.

“The treble damages are a matter of statutory entitlement, not common law discretion. If the legislature had intended these exemplary damages to be controlled by punitive damages limitations, it could have expressly said so, but it did not,” he wrote.
 

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  1. Uh oh, someone is really going to get their panti ... uh, um ... I mean get upset now: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/31/arkansas-passes-indiana-style-religious-freedom-bill

  2. Bryan, stop insulting the Swedes by comparing them to the American oligarchs. Otherwise your point is well taken.

  3. Sociologist of religion Peter Berger once said that the US is a “nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” He meant an irreligious elite ruling a religious people, as that Sweden is the world’s least religious country and India the most religious. The idea is that American social elites tend to be much less religious than just about everyone else in the country. If this is true, it helps explain the controversy raking Indiana over Hollywood, San Fran, NYC, academia and downtown Indy hot coals. Nevermind logic, nevermind it is just the 1993 fed bill did, forget the Founders, abandon of historic dedication to religious liberty. The Swedes rule. You cannot argue with elitists. They have the power, they will use the power, sit down and shut up or feel the power. I know firsthand, having been dealt blows from the elite's high and mighty hands often as a mere religious plebe.

  4. I need helping gaining custody of my 5 and 1 year old from my alcoholic girlfriend. This should be an easy case for any lawyer to win... I've just never had the courage to take her that far. She has a record of public intox and other things. She has no job and no where to live othe than with me. But after 5 years of trying to help her with her bad habit, she has put our kids in danger by driving after drinking with them... She got detained yesterday and the police chief released my kids to me from the police station. I live paycheck to paycheck and Im under alot of stress dealing with this situation. Can anyone please help?

  5. The more a state tries to force people to associate, who don't like each other and simply want to lead separate lives, the more that state invalidates itself....... This conflict has shown clearly that the advocates of "tolerance" are themselves intolerant, the advocates of "diversity" intend to inflict themselves on an unwilling majority by force if necessary, until that people complies and relents and allows itself to be made homogenous with the politically correct preferences of the diversity-lobbies. Let's clearly understand, this is force versus force and democracy has nothing to do with this. Democracy is a false god in the first place, even if it is a valid ideal for politics, but it is becoming ever more just an empty slogan that just suckers a bunch of cattle into paying their taxes and volunteering for stupid wars.

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