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COA upholds judgment in favor of employer in wrongful termination suit

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Indiana Department of Insurance in a lawsuit filed by a former employee claiming wrongful termination.

In Paul K. Ogden v. Stephen Robertson, et al., No. 49A05-1101-CT-45, Paul Ogden was hired in November 2006 as a division manger in the title division of IDOI. His job was classified as a grade executive broad band position. He worked under the supervision of chief deputy commissioner Carol Mihalik. Within months, Ogden verbalized frustrations to Commissioner James Atterholt regarding Mihalik’s supervision.

At one point, there was confusion over the preparation of insurance bulletins, and Ogden interpreted his conversation with Atterholt to mean that he was to work around Mihalik to develop the bulletins. Mihalik sent Ogden a “counseling letter” in September 2007, claiming he violated IDOI polices in drafting the bulletins and that she and Atterholt need to see bulletins before they are disseminated. The letter was not classified as a disciplinary measure.

Ogden also met with State Personnel Department employees to file a formal complaint against Mihalik alleging many violations, including personnel and legal ones. An investigation was opened. Ogden also sent a memorandum to Atterholt asking that the Title Insurance Division be removed from Mihalik’s unit so that it could operate under a different chief deputy and that the division be moved to a different floor.

As a result of the letter, Ogden was given two options by IDOI officials – resign or be terminated for being “out of line” requesting reorganization of the division. Ogden agreed to resign. He then filed the suit alleging violations of the First and 14th amendments, Article I, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution, the Whistleblower Law, Indiana Code 4-15-10-5, and state due process. The trial court granted summary judgment to the IDOI defendants, finding that the Whistleblower Law provided no private cause of action for which Ogden could seek relief through a civil lawsuit, Ogden’s memorandum wasn’t protected speech under the state constitution, and that memorandum was not the motivating factor in his forced resignation.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment, finding that the memorandum wasn’t protected speech under the Indiana Constitution; that Ogden wasn’t entitled to due process protections under Indiana personnel policy and Executive Order 05-14, which addresses when an employee may file a complaint regarding dismissal; and that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over his claim that he was wrongfully terminated.

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

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  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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