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High court grants 6 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer today to decide whether casinos can ban card counters. The high court also granted transfer to five cases Thursday, including a case of first impression regarding post-retirement health-insurance premiums.

In Thomas P. Donovan v. Grand Victoria Casino & Resort, No. 49S02-1003-CV-124, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for the casino in Thomas Donovan's suit challenging his ban from the casino. The appellate court granted Donovan summary judgment on his request for declaratory judgment that the casino can't exclude him from playing blackjack because of his card counting. The Indiana Gaming Commission hasn't enacted a provision that bans card counting, and Grand Victoria can't simply take refuge in the common law right of exclusion, ruled the appellate court.

In Anne M. Bingley v. Charles B. Bingley, No. 02S03-1002-CV-122, the Court of Appeals ruled for the first time that post-retirement health-insurance premiums paid by a former employer aren't a marital asset subject to a division. The trial court didn't include Charles Bingley's employer-paid, post-retirement health-insurance premiums when dividing the couple's assets during the dissolution process.

Anne Bingley argued the payments fall under subsection 2 of Indiana Code Section 31-9-2-98(b), as a retirement benefit not forfeited upon the termination of employment, and cited several Indiana cases that found pension benefits to be marital assets. But the Court of Appeals ruled the premiums weren't a marital asset subject to division. The cases Anne cited involved monthly monetary payments made directly to the pension-holding spouse; Charles' benefit wasn't payable to him but was non-elective and couldn't be divided or transferred, wrote Judge Elaine Brown.

In his concurring opinion, Judge Terry Crone encouraged the Indiana General Assembly to address a perceived ambiguity in the definition of "retirement benefits" and "vested" in terms of the Internal Revenue Code.

In Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Jasmine S. Watson, No. 71S03-1002-CV-119, a majority on the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's finding that the Indiana High School Athletic Association acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it ruled Jasmine Watson was ineligible to play basketball at a high school she transferred to just before her senior year. The majority also upheld an injunction placed by the trial court to prevent the IHSAA from enforcing the decision.

Watson's family claimed the transfer was caused by her mother's work hours being cut, the impending foreclosure of their home, and extended family living in South Bend.

Even though Watson has since graduated, the Court of Appeals took the case because if they found she was ineligible, it could force the high school to forfeit wins or awards. Even taking into account the IHSAA evidence that Watson and her mother had spoken about transferring prior to her mother's work hours being cut, the majority focused on the family's financial situation as the primary reason they moved to South Bend.

Judge Ezra Friedlander dissented because he thought the evidence supported the finding Watson was ineligible to play her senior year.

The justices granted transfer to In the Matter of the Estate of Harry L. Rickert, No. 18S04-1002-CV-118, in which one Court of Appeals judge believed In Re Estate of Banko, 622 N.E.2d 476, 480 (Ind. 1993), was binding, causing his dissent. Judge Michael Barnes disagreed with the majority that Banko doesn't apply to Rickert. He urged the high court to reconsider Banko's breadth given that an unscrupulous caregiver could take advantage of someone and get joint tenancy of accounts.

Carole Baker, as personal representative and beneficiary, argued the accounts opened by Harry Rickert's caretaker should be considered property of the estate. The trial court ruled the accounts presumptively belong to caregiver Keta Taylor unless the estate could prove "a different intention" on Rickert's part when they were created. The majority reversed and remanded for further proceedings because Rickert couldn't have had any intention regarding the ownership of the accounts at his death because he was allegedly incompetent in the last few years of his life when the accounts were made. The majority also held Banko doesn't require application of the Non-Probate Transfer Act statutory presumption in favor of Taylor as payable on death beneficiary or joint account holder under the facts of the case.

In U.S. Bank N.A. v. Integrity Land Title Corp., No. 17S03-1002-CV-120, the appellate court reversed the trial court's denial of U.S. Bank's motion to correct error and motion for relief from judgment in its contract claim against Integrity. There was a genuine issue of material fact whether Integrity contracted as a principal or an agent and whether Integrity breached the contract. Later on rehearing, a majority of COA judges allowed the parties to raise arguments for the first time in a response to a hearing before the appellate court. In response to U.S. Bank's petition for rehearing, Integrity raised new issues. Judge Melissa May dissented, finding the court's rules don't allow Integrity to raise the new argument and allowing it to do so effectively deprived U.S. Bank of an opportunity to respond.

In Christine Dugan v. Mittal Steel USA Inc., and Jay Komorowski, No. 45S05-1002-CV-121, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment for Mittal and Jay Komorowski as to the statements described in Paragraph 6 of Dugan's complaint for defamation. Dugan was fired from Mittal following an investigation of an alleged theft ring in the department where she worked. The judges reversed summary judgment in favor of Mittal and Komorowski as to Paragraph 7 of Dugan's complaint and remanded for further proceedings on that portion of her defamation claim. Mittal failed to establish as a matter of law that the statement is protected by the common interest privilege.

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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