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Justices take guest statute case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted a case that deals with whether a tort claim filed by a son against his father should be precluded by the Indiana Guest Statute. The case prompted each judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals panel that heard the case to author an opinion.

In the memorandum decision in Robert L. Clark, Jr. and Debra Clark v. Robert L. Clark, Sr., No. 01S02-1112-CT-690, Robert Clark Jr. and his wife, Debra, alleged negligence and loss of consortium against Robert Clark Sr. following an accident that severely injured Clark Jr.’s leg. The son had traveled with his father to a friend’s home to fill jugs with drinking water. When Clark Jr. tried to help his father parallel park, Clark Sr. hit the gas pedal instead of the break, hitting his son.

Clark Sr. asserted the Indiana Guest Statute as an affirmative defense, and the trial court granted his motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the majority found that the statute – which defines when someone responsible for operating a motor vehicle is not liable for a loss or damage arising from injuries or death to certain people, including one’s child – was inapplicable in the case and does not preclude the couple’s suit against Clark Sr.

Clark Jr. never claimed he was “in or upon” his father’s vehicle or “being transported” at the time he was injured. Chief Judge Margret Robb dissented, finding the better reading of Clark Sr.’s answers to requests for admissions is that they used “in” and “upon” in a generic and factual sense and not a legal sense.

“I read Senior as admitting that Junior was not literally inside or on top of the Chevrolet at the moment of impact, yet reserving the issue of whether he was “in or upon” the vehicle for purposes of applying the Guest Statute,” she wrote.

Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred with Judge Melissa May’s holding, but wrote separately because she believed summary judgment was improper due to C.M.L. ex rel. Brabant v. Republic Services Inc., 800 N.E.2d 200 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003), which also dealt with the Indiana Guest Statute.
 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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