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Divided appeals court affirms summary judgment for community action program

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A divided Indiana Court of Appeals panel on Friday affirmed a Marion Superior Court ruling that dismissed a case against a government-funded agency because the victims in a vehicle accident failed to provide notice under the Indiana Tort Claims Act.

John Schoettmer was driving his vehicle when he was in an accident with a vehicle that was being driven by Jolene C. Wright, who worked at South Central Community Action Program. Schoettmer was injured and sued after rejecting a $12,868 settlement offer from the agency to cover his medical expenses.

In John W. Schoettmer and Karen Schoettmer v. Jolene C. Wright and South Central Community Action Program, Inc., 49A04-1108-CT-406, Judge Melissa May wrote that the Schoettmers acknowledged that they didn’t provide notice to the agency as required in litigation against government agencies or political subdivisions that receive taxpayer funding.

“Instead, they assert their communications with South Central’s liability insurer, Cincinnati Insurance, substantially complied with the ITCA notice provisions. We disagree,” May wrote.  

“The trial court did not err when it granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment. Schoettmers did not timely file their ITCA notice, nor may they find refuge from their failure in the theories of substantial compliance, waiver, and estoppel. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court,” May wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Elaine Brown.

Judge Terry Crone dissented and wrote that Schoettmer worked with the insurer after the accident in December 2008 until the settlement offer was made in September 2009. More than a year later, the Schoettmers sued, but the insurer did not assert a defense under provisions of ITCA until amending their response to the suit more than 60 days after the initial response.

“I would not hold the Schoettmers’ counsel to a higher standard of due diligence regarding discovery of South Central’s governmental status than I would South Central’s own counsel,” Crone wrote in a dissent in which he said he would reverse summary judgment in favor of South Central and stop South Central from asserting the Schoettmers’ noncompliance with the notice provisions of the ITCA as a bar to their claims.

“Cincinnati Insurance’s behavior was misleading and John’s complete ignorance regarding South Central’s governmental status was reasonable,” Crone wrote.

 

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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