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Insurer loses appeal over matter litigated elsewhere

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An insurance company may not recover in Marion Superior Court claims paid for an auto accident after a St. Joseph court ruled a driver was not at fault in the crash.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a Marion Superior order to set aside an earlier entry of summary judgment in favor of the insurance company in Geico Insurance Company, as subrogee of Ralph Heitkamp v. Dianna Graham, 49A02-1310-CT-898.

Diana Graham and Janet Heitkamp were involved in an auto accident after which Heitkamp sued in a South Bend small claims court in an attempt to recoup her deductible. The court, though, found Heitkamp was at fault for the crash. Geico was notified of the ruling, according to the record, but later sued Graham in Marion Superior Court seeking to recover more than $7,500 it paid to Heitkamp, again claiming Graham was at fault.

Representing herself in Marion Superior Court, Graham presented no evidence or the prior ruling in her favor during a hearing at which the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Geico. Counsel later filed a motion to set aside, which was granted.

“Geico’s Marion Superior Court claim against Graham was derivative of Heitkamp’s St. Joseph county small claim against Graham,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the panel. “Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting Graham’s motion to set aside the judgment on the grounds that Geico’s current claim against her is barred by the claim preclusion branch of the doctrine of res judicata.”
   
 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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