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Court rules gynecologist can’t testify on mental competency

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A bank is able to foreclose on a mortgage against the estate of a deceased 95-year-old woman who opened the line of credit to pay her granddaughter to take care of her. But the elderly woman’s daughter argued the granddaughter unduly influenced Mildred Borgwald to open the account.

Borgwald insisted on remaining on her own in her home despite failing health and limited sight. Raelynn Pound, Borgwald’s granddaughter, agreed to take care of her grandmother around the clock for $650 per week. The two went to Old National Bank to open an equity line of credit against her home in the amount of $36,000. Nearly a third of this was paid to Pound within a week of opening; $650 was paid out weekly from November 2007 through June 2008. Borgwald died in August 2008.

Her daughter, Lana McGee – who is also Pound’s mother – opened Borgwald’s estate. The bank filed a claim for $36,274.54, seeking to foreclose on the home’s mortgage. The estate filed a petition to recover assets from Pound and asserted fraud and undue influence.

After holding a bench trial, the court found Borgwald had the mental capacity to enter into the contract with the bank and was not unduly influenced by Pound. ONB was entitled to have the mortgage foreclosed as a valid and paramount lien on Borgwald’s property.

The estate appealed, arguing its proffered expert witness Dr. Robert Lalouche should have been included. But Lalouche, a gynecologist, had never treated Borgwald and formed his opinions only based on the medical records submitted by the estate.

“Although Dr. Lalouche relies in his report on the conclusions by Mildred’s treating psychiatrist and internist, he does not profess an independent competency in neurological diseases or age-related mental deficiencies and his conclusion with respect of Mildred’s ability to comprehend the mortgage process is of no assistance to the trier of fact,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in In the Matter of the Supervised Estate of Mildred Borgwald, Deceased v. Old National Bank and Raelynn Pound, 84A01-1302-ES-80.

The judges found the estate was not denied the opportunity to make an offer of proof and the trial court properly excluded references to expert opinions and medical diagnosis because the estate sought to admit Borgwald’s medical records through the testimony of McGee. But McGee is a lay witness and not a medical expert under Evidence Rule 702.

Finally, the Court of Appeals declined to find the line of credit was invalid because the bank customer service representative’s notary did not read every single word of the document to Borgwald, as required under I.C. 33-42-2-2(4).  But the estate never called the notary as a witness, and the judges pointed out that a mortgage does not need to be notarized in order to be enforceable in Indiana.

“Even assuming that the mortgage was not read to Mildred and that Mildred could be characterized as being blind and not merely ‘having trouble seeing,’ the validity of the mortgage would not be affected, only the notary’s signature. Therefore, we decline the Estate’s invitation to invalidate the mortgage,” Riley wrote.

 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

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