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Judges reduce restitution award stemming from correctional officer attack

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A partial permanent impairment settlement cannot be considered by a trial court when imposing restitution, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

In Ruben Gonzalez v. State of Indiana, 52A02-1306-CR-526, Ruben Gonzalez appealed the $41,200 in restitution he was ordered to pay to JWF Specialty Company, the third-party administrator for the state’s workers’ compensation benefits. Gonzalez, while incarcerated at the Miami Correctional Facility, severely beat correctional officer Rodney Gahl with a padlock contained in a sock. The attack caused severe life-threatening injuries, resulting in extensive treatment and therapy and substantial permanent impairments.

Gonzalez was convicted of Class A felony attempted murder and Class B felony aggravated battery. The trial court ordered he pay JWF more than $257,000 in restitution. He only appealed the portion of the restitution order related to the permanent partial impairment settlement paid to Gahl.

The parties agree that JWF can recoup the restitution amounts JWF paid for Gahl’s medical treatment and lost wages, which were incurred prior to the sentencing hearing.

“The medical and lost-wages costs assumed by JWF are specific costs that a trial court shall consider when imposing restitution. The same cannot be said for the PPI settlement,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote, citing I.C. 35-50-5-3(a)(2) and (4).

“A PPI payment is compensation for an injured employee’s permanent loss of physical function(s) rather than for an inability to work. Gahl, himself, could not have sought restitution at the criminal proceeding for loss of physical function, as it does not encompass already-incurred lost wages or medical expense. Accordingly, JWF cannot recover the PPI payment via its status as a surrogate victim.”

The judges remand for the trial court to reduce the restitution award by $41,200. They also ordered the trial court to vacate the aggravated battery conviction because of a double jeopardy violation.
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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