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Justices to weigh civil court rulings in criminal wrongful death case

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A Lake County civil case filed against a driver who hit a woman causing fatal injuries will go before the Indiana Supreme Court to determine whether the court’s preliminary motions delaying the case were proper.

Justices agreed to hear an interlocutory appeal in the wrongful death action Joseph D. Hardiman and Jaketa L. Patterson, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Britney R. Meux, Deceased v. Jason R. Cozmanoff, 45S03-1309-CT-619. Britney Meux was jogging when she was hit by a car driven by Jason Cozmanoff, who was charged with 13 crimes including reckless homicide.

With the criminal case pending, Lake Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider granted a stay of discovery in the civil case requested by Cozmanoff, who argued that requiring the civil case to proceed would infringe on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The trial court also ordered Cozmanoff to answer the complaint within 30 days.

Both sides asked the Court of Appeals to review the trial court’s ruling, and the appellate panel issued a not-for-publication opinion in May that later was revised to a for-publication ruling. The panel concluded the discovery stay should be lifted and the civil litigation allowed to proceed.

The case is one of two appeals the Supreme Court added to its docket for the week ending Sept. 27. Justices also agreed to grant transfer in Gayle Fischer v. Michael and Noel Heymann, 49S02-1309-PL-620, in which the Court of Appeals reduced a damages award from almost $94,000 to $117 after a couple backed out of a condo purchase agreement in a dispute over needed electrical repairs.

The court declined transfer in 22 cases and vacated transfer in Indiana Newspapers, Inc. d/b/a The Indianapolis Star v. Jeffrey M. Miller, et al., 49S02-1305-PL-311. Justices in that case heard oral argument one day before issuing an order that let stand a trial court ruling ordering the Star to provide identifying information regarding an online commenter in a defamation case.

Complete transfer disposition lists may be viewed here.
 

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