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For want of $2, negligence claim is untimely

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A filing fee that was $2 less than required for a negligence claim in Clark County but was corrected and paid in full after the statute of limitations ran out may not proceed, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

A clerk noticed that when Thomas Palmer filed a negligence action against Natasha F. Hortenberry in 2010 related to an auto accident, a check for $137 accompanied the complaint, but the fee should have been $139. The court clerk notified Palmer of the mistake, and he mailed a check for $2 the next day, and the court granted his motion that the complaint be treated as timely filed.

That same day, an attorney appeared for Hortenberry and asked the court to set aside the order treating the suit as timely, but the court denied the motion.

“Because Indiana Trial Rule 3 and Indiana Supreme Court precedent clearly indicate that paying the filing fee is required for the commencement of an action, we conclude that the trial court erred by denying Hortenberry’s motion. Therefore, we reverse and remand,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel in Natasha F. Hortenberry v. Thomas Palmer, 10A04-1301-CT-17.

The trial court relied on Trial Rule 1 language to find “an inadvertent clerical error (a $2.00 shortfall of the fee that was only recently increased) should not deprive Plaintiff of a right to litigate his claim in court.”

The appeals panel said the court should have instead looked to the “bright line rule” it believes was set by the Supreme Court. “We conclude that the trial court erred by relying on Trial Rule 1 to allow the case to proceed rather than applying the clear language of Trial Rule 3, and we reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” Crone wrote.



 

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  • For want of $2
    I would rather filing fees be increased $20 now than $2 each year for the next 10 years. It would help eliminate these errors.

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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