ILNews

High court clarifies evidence designation

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant and also clarified the designation of evidence in regards to Indiana Trial Rule 56(C).

In Idan (John) Filip and Valaria Filip v. Carrie Block and 1st Choice Insurance Agency, No. 75S05-0704-CV-149, the Filips filed a suit against Block and 1st Choice, alleging negligence in the selection of insurance on an apartment building they purchased in 1999.

Block was the insurance agent of the previous owner, and when the Filips purchased the building they worked with Block and told her they wanted the same coverage as the previous owner. The Filips lived in the building and rented out the other five units. During the following four years, the Filips made several changes to their policy. In April 2003, a fire substantially damaged the building, and because of insurance limitations, a major part of the loss was uninsured - the Filips discovered their non-business personal belongings were not covered in the fire.

Block and 1st Choice filed for summary judgment Aug. 1, 2005. The Filips had 30 days to respond and did not file their response until the end of September. The trial court struck the Filips' untimely designation of evidence and limited the Filips' evidence in opposition to the lines and paragraphs specified in Block's memorandum. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Block and 1st Choice because the two-year statute of limitations for negligence started on the date of the initial insurance coverage in 1999.

The Court of Appeals held the Filips could rely on the pages identified in the defendant's motion and were not limited to lines and paragraphs specified in the memorandum. Also, the Court of Appeals held the statute of limitations did not bar the Filips' complaint because the statutory period for negligence against an insurance agent starts to run when the claim is denied.

In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Theodore Boehm held the designation of evidence in support or opposition to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 56(C) may be accomplished in several places, but must be done so consistently. The entire designation of evidence must be in a single place, whether as a separate document or appendix, or as a part of a motion or other filing. And, a party may rely on designations by an opposing party, even if inconsistently designated in different places. Block tried to allow only specific lines and paragraphs to be used by the Filips; however, the Filips can rely on the entire designated pages identified in the defendants' motion in opposing summary judgment, Justice Boehm wrote.

In regards to when the accrual date for a negligence action against an insurance agent begins, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court. The trial court determined the statute of limitations began to run at the time of coverage. The Filips argued their negligence claim began when the fire occurred. Justice Boehm wrote in this case, all of the alleged problems the Filips claim their policy lacked could have been ascertained by reading the policy at any point before the fire. With the exception of their nonbusiness personal property, the limitations in this case began with the activation of the policy.

The Filips and Block both erroneously believed the Filips policy covered the Filips' nonbusiness personal property, and the Filips claim they relied on Block's statements they were covered.

"In sum, for the purposes of the summary judgment, there is evidence that Block breached the duty of care because she incorrectly believed nonbusiness personal property was covered. There are no damages from this breach, however," wrote Justice Boehm.
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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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