ILNews

Justices rule in favor of county

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Elkhart County is immune from losses resulting from temporary weather-related road conditions in 2001, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.

The 4-1 decision came in Marvin Hochstetler v. Elkhart Co. Highway Dept., et al., 20S05-0703-CV-97, a case it heard arguments in May 10. The case involved a motorcycle driver, Hochstetler, who struck a fallen tree on a county road after a storm and sued the county departments and officials for negligence. The Elkhart Superior Court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, but the Court of Appeals reversed in October after concluding the material issues of fact remain as to whether the county is immune under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. That provides governmental defendants immunity from liability if the loss resulted from a temporary condition of a public thoroughfare resulting from weather.

However, the Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer and wrote that the condition was temporary and the county was therefore immune from these types of suits.

"There might well be a case in which weather-related conditions remained unintended for so long a period that it no longer qualified as 'temporary,' Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote. "This is not that case."

Justice Brent Dickson dissented, writing that genuine issues of fact remained "whether the hazard was temporary and whether its efficient cause was weather or the government's failure to monitor and maintain its roads with reasonable care."
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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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