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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.