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Justices again take utility’s case against Fort Wayne

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A decade-long legal dispute between the city of Fort Wayne and a water utility will make a second appearance before the Indiana Supreme Court. The case was the only one of 28 in which a petition seeking transfer to the high court was granted for the week ending Aug. 10.

The justices granted transfer last week to Utility Center, Inc. d/b/a Aqua Indiana, Inc. v. City of Fort Wayne, 90S04-1208-PL-450. The city has sought since June 2002 to condemn utility property through eminent domain.

The city’s board of works has set prices multiple times for the acquisition of a water facility based on the average of estimates as required under Indiana Code 32-24-2. The price has fluctuated between $14.7 million and $17.2 million.

In January, the Court of Appeals unanimously found in favor of the city and rejected the utility’s argument that it was entitled to a jury trial to determine the fair market value of the land the city sought to condemn. The appeals court affirmed the trial court, “concluding that the trial court can and should decline to hold a jury trial and limit its review as such.”

In 2007, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the city.

The justices declined to take the murder appeal of James Whately, who was convicted of killing Indianapolis hotel owner Bharat Patel in August 2007. It was one of 22 criminal cases the Supreme Court declined to grant transfer.

Other criminal appeals the Supreme Court denied include:

  • The murder and armed robbery conviction of Lucas Holland in Monroe Superior Court. Holland was convicted of killing David Moore in 2010 after stealing an ATV on his property.
  •  Michael Phelps, convicted as an eighth-grader of attempted murder for shooting a former classmate at Martinsville Middle School. After his conviction during a bench trial, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.


The transfer disposition list may be viewed here.

 

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