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District judge asks court to answer certified question

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The U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana is asking the state’s Supreme Court to accept a certified question in litigation involving the Indiana Products Liability Act.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney granted plaintiff Nicholas Green’s motion to certify a question of Indiana law June 30. The question is, “Whether, in a crashworthiness case alleging enhanced injuries under the Indiana Products Liability Act, the finder of fact shall apportion fault to the person suffering physical harm when that alleged fault relates to the cause of the underlying accident.”

Green was driving a 1999 Ford Explorer Sport in Indianapolis in January 2006 when his vehicle left the road, hit a guard rail, rolled down an embankment, and came to rest upside down in a ditch. Green is now a quadriplegic because of the accident.

He sued Ford Motor Company in federal court under the state’s Product Liability Act, claiming the design of the car was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and Ford was negligent in its design of the car’s restraint system.

Ford intends to assert an affirmative defense based upon Green’s alleged negligence in causing the underlying accident. Green argues his alleged negligence is irrelevant because only a product’s defective design can cause “enhanced injuries.”

“…the critical question is whether a plaintiff who negligently causes the underlying accident in a crashworthiness or enhanced injury case also ‘causes’ the enhanced injuries that, by law, the plaintiff is required to prove were caused by the defective design,” wrote Judge McKinney. “Indiana Code section 34-20-8-1 does not answer that question ….”

Judge McKinney noted that the law is uncertain, no Indiana court has written on the issue, there is a split of authority in other states, and the issue is a matter of vital public concern. Until the issue is resolved, the judge administratively closed the case out of the Indianapolis Division, Nicholas A. Green v. Ford Motor Co., No. 1:08-CV-0163, pending a resolution by the Supreme Court.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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