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Court erred in dismissing claim with prejudice

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's dismissal of a woman's claims against her former tenants, finding the court misinterpreted a previous appellate ruling to support the dismissal.

In Peg Zaremba v. Jessica and John Navarez, No. 64A05-0809-CV-254, Peg Zaremba had filed a small claims eviction complaint against the Navarezes, which the court opinion refers to as Cause No. 629. Zaremba failed to appear for the initial hearing and bench trial and her counsel requested a dismissal without prejudice, which was granted.

A few months later, Zaremba filed another claim against the Navarezes for damages, referred to in the opinion as Cause No. 3733. The trial court dismissed her claim with prejudice, ruling Zaremba failed to explain her absence from the initial hearing in Cause No. 629 and didn't file a motion under Trial Rule 60 to set aside the dismissal. The trial court ruled her failure to appear and the dismissal was res judicata. The trial court also denied Zaremba's motion to correct error, finding she failed to appear for trial and noted it is a plaintiff's obligation to seek relief from a dismissal without prejudice under T.R. 60 prior to refilling a case, citing Multivest Properties v. Hughes, 671 N.E.2d 199 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996).

But the trial court erred, both in determining the dismissal of Cause No. 629 served as res judicata and in its interpretation of Multivest. Cause No. 629 was dismissed without prejudice, which wasn't a judgment on the merits. As a result, Zaremba's complaint under Cause No. 3733 wasn't barred by res judicata, wrote Judge Elaine Brown.

The trial court misread what it believed the appellate court held in Multivest, wrote the judge. The Court of Appeals held that Indiana Small Claims Rule 10 is specific and "dismissal with prejudice is contemplated only when the plaintiff fails to appear after the claim has been refiled." Zaremba didn't fail to appear after she refiled her claim. The trial court abused its discretion by dismissing her claim with prejudice and denying her motion to correct error. The Court of Appeals remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. 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?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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