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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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