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Court will hear attorney withdrawal case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to take a case exploring how litigants can proceed on their own after the attorney withdraws prior to trial, particularly when a language barrier may exist.

Justices on Thursday granted transfer in the civil case of Rudrappa and Jayashree Gunashekar v. Kay Grose, d/b/a America's Affordable Housing J&K Manufacturing, No. 02A03-0712-CV-614.

In an Aug. 12 unpublished memorandum opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court's denial of the Gunashekars' pro se motion to continue after their attorney withdrew from the case six weeks before trial.

The Allen County case stems from a 2002 fire that damaged a commercial building the Gunashekars owned. They hired a contractor for $147,337 of repair work, but the insurance coverage came in less than that amount. The Gunashekars' payment to the contractor wasn't honored, and that resulted in a lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial in late July 2007. The Gunashekars' attorney withdrew in mid-June, and the trial court granted the motion to withdraw and ordered that no continuance would be granted. The couple was ultimately ordered to pay the damages, as well as treble damages, but a new attorney argued that the court should have allowed them to continue the trial in order to find new counsel.

"There is little in the record to indicate whether the Gunashekars foresaw (their attorney's) withdrawal, were at fault or were diligent in attempting to secure new counsel," the court wrote. "Nevertheless, (that attorney) withdrew six weeks before trial of a complex case with non-native English speakers potentially subject to treble damages. While several relevant concerns suggest that (his) withdrawal may have compromised the Gunashekars' presentation of their case, nothing indicates that Grose would have then been prejudiced by a delay."

The appellate court remanded for a new trial in the 2-1 decision, but Judge Ezra Friedlander disagreed that the trial court's denial constituted abuse of discretion and that a more detailed look at the facts is necessary. The judge would opt for more trial court discretion in this case and more evidence that a language barrier existed, he wrote.

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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