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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. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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