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High court grants transfer Thursday

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday to a case questioning whether the Indiana Department of Transportation is liable for the death of an employee of an independent contractor working on a highway project.

In Lorraine Bunn, as personal representative of the estate of Robert P. Bunn, deceased, and Robert L. Bunn v. Indiana Dept. of Transportation, No. 50A03-0810-CV-504, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of INDOT on the estate's negligence claims. Robert P. Bunn was fatally electrocuted while working on a highway construction project INDOT contracted to his employer.

INDOT moved for summary judgment, arguing it had no duty to Robert or his son Robert L. Bunn (Bobby), who witnessed the accident, because they were independent contractors.

Judges L. Mark Bailey and Margret Robb cited Indiana Dept. of Transportation v. Howard, 879 N.E.2d 1119 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), and concluded that INDOT couldn't avoid liability on the basis of its delegation of its responsibilities to maintain and repair state highways. They also believed INDOT's contract with Pioneer, who subcontracted work to the company where Bunn worked, held INDOT liable.

Judge Carr Darden dissented, because he believed Howard applies only to work performed by an independent contractor in which the negligent execution of that work may endanger the traveling public. The person killed in Howard was a person traveling on the road, not an employee. The judge also believed INDOT couldn't be held liable based on the contract it had with Pioneer.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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