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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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