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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues