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Judges reverse award of attorney fees

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the award of attorney fees to a daughter who was sued by her mother following a fall, finding there were no valid legal conclusions justifying the award.

In Violet M. Lockett v. Peggy Hoskins a/k/a Peggy J. Smith, No. 49A02-1106-CT-552, mother Violet Lockett sued her daughter Peggy Hoskins for negligence after Lockett tripped and fell on a ridge of concrete that was concealed by carpet while she was walking through a breezeway that connected the homes of the two women. Lockett, who rented her home from Hoskins, broke her hip.

Hoskins filed a counterclaim, arguing that her mother’s case was frivolous and asked for attorney fees and costs; she later moved for summary judgment on the negligence claim, which was granted. Lockett appealed, but the case was dismissed for inactivity. The trial court granted Hoskins’ request for attorney fees and costs, finding that Lockett’s lawsuit was unreasonable and frivolous, that Lockett continued to litigate after the claim became groundless, or that the case was brought in bad faith. Hoskins was awarded nearly $23,000 in attorney fees.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, finding that although Lockett’s claim was ultimately meritless, her arguments were logical and supported by citation to precedent. Lockett also made a good faith and rational argument on the merits of the action, and there’s no evidence she was acting in bad faith by filing the suit against her daughter.

“In the absence of valid legal conclusions justifying an award of attorney’s fees, the trial court’s grant of fees to Hoskins was an abuse of discretion and must be reversed. Furthermore, because this appeal is resolved in favor of Lockett, Hoskins’ request for appellate attorney’s fees is without merit and must be denied,” wrote Senior Judge Betty Barteau.

 

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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