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Judge criticizes counsel seeking class status

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Don't expect one federal judge to re-examine a ruling by another jurist on the same court if you don't present any new facts or arguments on a similar case and issue.

That's the message to federal attorneys practicing in the Southern District of Indiana, as detailed in a decision Thursday from U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton in Blanca Gomez and Joan Wagner-Barnett v. St. Vincent Health, No. 1:08-CV-0153. The judge denied a class-action certification motion involving two ex-hospital workers who allege their former employer didn't provide adequate notice of COBRA rights to more than 250 people qualified for that extended health insurance between May 2004 and January 2006.

Plaintiff attorney Ronald E. Weldy, with Weldy & Associates in Indianapolis, had filed a previous suit that Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis ruled on in 2007, also denying the class certification and faulting the lawyer for inadequate representation of the plaintiffs. The attorney originally appealed that denial at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, but abandoned the appeal to subsequently file this second suit about the same proposed class of former hospital employees.

"They provide no new facts or arguments in their motion for class certification; they have merely decided to emphasize the aspects of their case that they believe undermine Judge Barker's decision. If plaintiffs' counsel wanted a review of Judge Barker's decision, his proper recourse was to the Seventh Circuit," Judge Hamilton wrote. "(Her) decision was not a first draft for another district judge to expound upon after plaintiffs' counsel had an opportunity to see the flaws in his initial argument."

Citing that previous case of Brown-Pfifer v. St. Vincent Health, 2007 WL 2757264 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 20, 2007), the court detailed how Judge Barker and Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson had previously perceived deficiencies in the proposed class counsel that included faulty discovery efforts and a failure to develop a full record.

"His questionable work in that case and his decision to relitigate the same issues in this court show a lack of regard for scarce judicial resources," Judge Hamilton wrote. "This attempt to have this court effectively overrule a colleague on the District Court on an indistinguishable record is not the best means of representing the proposed class members."

Pointing to caselaw showing that a requirement of class-certification is adequacy of representation, Judge Hamilton found that plaintiffs' counsel in this case is not adequate to represent the proposed class. Without an appropriate class counsel, certification for that proposed class must be denied.

Weldy has been certified as class counsel by a third judge in a separate COBRA notification case. Judge Hamilton wrote that he's not expressing any opinion on the lawyer's fitness to serve in that or any other case.

Indiana Lawyer couldn't immediately reach Weldy today by phone or email for his reaction to the ruling.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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