Dentist’s reputation, privacy and identity are not chattel under T.R. 75(A)(2)

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The Indiana Court of Appeals decided that the preferred venue of a woman’s lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend alleging defamation and other claims is in Marion County where the man resides and not in Lake County where she works. The opinion hinged upon whether there were chattels involved.

Catherine Kroczek and William Belcher dated for a few months in 2012 but broke up in September of that year. While dating, she told Belcher she had the herpes simplex virus. After they broke up, Belcher mailed letters to the dentistry offices where Kroczek worked, telling her employers and colleagues she had herpes and had infected “only a few people.” He also registered her on several websites without her knowledge regarding her health status.

She sued Belcher in Lake County, alleging he committed defamation per se, invasion of privacy, disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, identity theft and tortuous interference with a business relationship. He filed a motion to transfer to Marion County, where he lived, which was denied.

Kroczek claimed her reputation, privacy, identity and goodwill are intangible personal chattels under Trial Rule 75(A)(2), thus supporting Lake County as the preferred venue.

The courts have previously found the right to publicity or a money judgment is intangible personal chattel, but those rights are transferrable. But reputation, privacy and identity are not transferrable, Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in William M. Belcher v. Catherine Kroczek, D.D.S., 45A03-1311-CT-436. They are inherently different from patents, money judgments and publicity rights, so they are not chattels.

Goodwill may qualify as a chattel, but it can’t serve as the basis for preferred venue in this case because it does not allege an injury to enterprise goodwill, which is a business asset.

Belcher is entitled to transfer venue to Marion County based on his residence, the COA held.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues