Opinions

Opinions June 17, 2015

June 17, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Robert Lewis III v. State of Indiana
45S00-1312-LW-512
Life without parole. Affirms Lewis’ convictions of murder, murder in the perpetration of criminal deviate conduct, criminal deviate conduct and resisting law enforcement, but reverses the sentence of life without possibility of parole because the trial court’s sentencing order did not contain a personal conclusion that life without possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence for Lewis. Remands for a revised sentencing order.
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Opinions June 16, 2015

June 16, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Joan Strozewski v. James Strozewski
29A02-1412-DR-885
Domestic. Affirms on interlocutory appeal trial court denial of Joan Strozewski’s motion to transfer the case to St. Joseph County. Because Hamilton County is a preferred venue for a dissolution action, change of venue cannot be granted, and the trial court did not err in denying the motion to transfer venue.
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Opinions June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Marc Shell v. Kevin Smith, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Anderson, et al.
14-2958
Civil. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Anderson defendants and remands Shell’s Americans with Disabilities Act claim for proceedings in the District Court. Shell, a mechanic’s helper in the City of Anderson Transit System, claimed his firing after a change of city administration violated his rights under the ADA because he’d held the position for 12 years. He was unable to obtain a commercial driver’s license due to hearing and vision impairment and was fired after a new administrator enforced a job description requirement that he obtain a CDL. Because of evidence and reasonable inferences favorable to both parties, summary judgment was inappropriate.
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Opinions June 12, 2015

June 12, 2015

Indiana Supreme Court
The following opinion was issued after IL deadline Thursday.
In the Matter of the Adoption of Minor Children: I.B. and W.B.: B.B. v. B.C. and J.L., and Indiana Department of Child Services
82S05-1502-AD-63
Adoption. Reverses trial court adoption petition in favor of maternal grandmother B.C. that had been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Justices overturned a COA ruling that I.C. § 31-19-11-1(c)(15), which disqualifies certain felons from adoption, is unconstitutional. The law is constitutional because its prohibitions are rationally related to the classifications they draw, the court ruled. The case is remanded to the trial court to reconsider the petition in view of the absolute statutory bar to B.C. adopting.

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Opinions June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Michael R. Bixeman and Doreen Bixeman v. Hunter's Run Homeowners Association of St. John, Inc.
45A03-1411-PL-406
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court ruling that the sanction imposed by Hunter’s Run on the Bixemans’ was invalid because the homeowners association did not give the couple the required 10 days notice as outlined in the homeowners’ covenants. Reverses denial of the Bixemans’ claim of slander of title because Hunter’s Run knew the lien placed on their home was invalid but refused to release it. Remands for determination whether the couple was damaged by the slander of title, and if so, to what extent, as well as to enter findings on attorney fees.
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Opinions June 10, 2015

June 10, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Michael A. Miller v. St. Joseph County, et al.
14-2989

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Judge Rudy Lozano.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of Miller’s lawsuit claiming he had been discriminated against because he’s African-American. There is no evidence that the denial of his requests to fill two spots considered promotions were based on his race and he always retained his status as sergeant and same pay and benefits when he began working in the property room.
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Opinions June 9, 2015

June 9, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Kimberly S. Earl and the Estate of Jerry Earl
35S05-1408-CT-562
Civil tort. Affirms admission of Jerry Earl’s uninsured motorist policy limits into evidence at a trial involving State Farm, finding no error given the substantial evidence and correct jury instructions. Declines to create a bright-line rule involving the admission of coverage limits at trial.
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Opinions June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jake Gruber, Jill Sherman, & Jake Gruber b/n/f Jill Sherman v. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center, & Flat Rock River YMCA Resident Camp

49A02-1410-CT-713
Civil tort. Affirms trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of YMCA defendants in a suit brought by the parents of a child bitten by a pig at a camp. The panel declined to change the standard to strict liability for owners of animals from the general rule that owners of domestic animals are liable only if the owner knows or has reason to know that the animal has dangerous propensities.
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Opinions June 5, 2015

June 5, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Bertram A. Graves, M.D. v. Indiana University Health, f/k/a Clarian Health Partners, Inc., Richard Kovacs, M.D., and Edward Ross, M.D.
49A05-1412-PL-560 
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment for IU Health defendants in a breach-of-contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit brought by a cardiologist whose privileges were revoked. The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Graves’ motion to compel and in striking parts of his affidavit.
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Opinions June 4, 2015

June 4, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of, M.W., (Minor Child) and, J.W., (Mother) v. The Ind. Dept. of Child Services
82A01-1410-JT-456
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the mother’s motion for a continuance of the termination of the parental rights hearing.
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Opinions June 3, 2015

June 3, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Jason and Justina Kramer v. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc.
71S03-1506-CT-350
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment for Catholic Charities on the Kramers’ lawsuit alleging negligence after the baby they adopted through the agency was returned to her father eight months later after he contested the adoption. The Kramers failed to demonstrate that Catholic Charities had any duties with respect to the putative father registry in excess of its statutory obligation. Justice Dickson dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Tommy R. Pruitt v. Ron Neal, Superintendent, Indiana State Prison
13-1880
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Post conviction. Reverses death sentence for Tommy Pruitt, convicted of murder for killing Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Starnes in 2001. Pruitt has established that he is intellectually disabled and categorically ineligible for the death penalty and that trial counsel were ineffective in their investigation and presentation of evidence that Pruitt suffered from schizophrenia. Remands for new penalty-phase proceeding.
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Opinions June 1, 2015

June 1, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Shane Kervin v. La Clair Barnes, et al.
14-2983
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge James T. Moody. Affirms dismissal of Kervin’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit alleging that as a prisoner, his rights were violated when he was placed in solitary confinement and denied privileges as punishment for complaining about a delay in being allowed to see his attorney. The court ruled Kervin’s backtalk to guards was the basis for his punishment, which was neither “atypical,” “significant,” nor “a dramatic departure from the basic conditions” of his sentence as required for such claims under Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484-85 (1995).

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Opinions May 29, 2015

May 29, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
State of Indiana v. Scott Zerbe

49A05-1410-MI-463
Criminal. Reverses a trial court ruling granting Zerbe’s petition to remove his name from the Sex Offender Registry. Zerbe was required to register as a sex offender for a Michigan offense committed in 1992 when he moved to here in 2012. Indiana’s Sex Offender Registry, enacted in 1994, is not unconstitutional as applied to Zerbe.
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Opinions May 28, 2015

May 28, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Terry Huber v. Roger Hamilton
54A01-1404-PL-154
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court ruling that the buyer of land, Terry Huber, breached the land contract when he failed to make the balloon payment when it was originally due. The oral agreement between the parties to modify the written land contract is unenforceable because it was not reduced to writing.
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Opinions May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Tommy Lampley v. State of Indiana
48A04-1405-CR-231
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation. Lampley admitted to participating in unlawful conduct during his probationary period.
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Opinions May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015
Indiana Tax Court
Marion County Auditor v. State of Indiana
49T10-1406-TA-25
Tax. Grants the state’s motion to dismiss the auditor’s action challenging the constitutionality of I.C. 6-1.1-15-12. The auditor does not have statutory or common law standing to appeal the PTABOA’s decision on Grandville’s Forms 133 to the Tax Court.
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Opinions May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Charles D. Howard v. State of Indiana
14A04-1406-CR-286
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, Class B misdemeanor harassment, Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The trial court issued a ruling on Howard’s motion to suppress/dismiss. Howard did not object to the admission of evidence at trial; (2) the state did not introduce or seek to admit into evidence any of Howard’s post-arrest statements; and (3) Howard did not file a motion for discharge under Criminal Rule 4 or object to the trial court’s setting of any of his trial dates.
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Opinions May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015
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Opinions May 20, 2015

May 20, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
University of Notre Dame v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, et al., and Jane Doe 3
13-3853
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Chief Judge Philip P. Simon.
Civil. Affirms denial of preliminary relief requested by Notre Dame against having to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate pending a trial. Notre Dame has not yet established its right to the injunctive relief it is seeking before trial and majority believes a trial on the merits is necessary. Judge Hamilton concurs in separate opinion; Judge Flaum dissents in separate opinion.
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Opinions May 19, 2015

May 19, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of: Thomas R. Philpot
45S00-1304-DI-224
Attorney discipline. Suspends Thomas Philpot from the practice of law for four years without automatic reinstatement. Finds he violated the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct by committing crimes that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.
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Opinions May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Gary P. Byers v. Robert E. Moredock and Rhoda S. Moredock
34A04-1412-CT-560
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the Moredocks and against Byers. Finds the Moredocks as owners of the property and landlords did not have a duty to ensure their tenant’s dog was properly restrained.
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Opinions May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015
Indiana Tax Court
Lee and Sally Peters v. Lisa Garoffolo, Boone County Assessor, and the Indiana Board of Tax Review
49T10-1207-TA-42
Tax. Affirms the Indiana Board of Tax Review’s 2010 assessment of a Zionsville office building owned by Lee and Sally Peters. The Indiana Board of Tax Review did no err in upholding the 2010 real property assessment.
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Opinions May 14, 2015

May 14, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
The Board of Commissioners of the County of Jefferson v. Teton Corporation, Innovative Roofing Solutions, Inc., Gutapfel Roofing, Inc., and Daniel L. Gutapfel
72S04-1410-CT-642
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the contractors on the county’s subrogation claim to recover damages caused to the courthouse outside the scope of the renovation work. The plain meaning of the contract defines the scope of the AIA contract waiver based on the extent and source of coverage, not the nature of the property damaged. Agrees with the majority of jurisdictions that have applied this plain meaning to bar recovery for all damages covered by the same property insurance policy used to cover construction-related damages – commonly referred to as the “any insurance” approach. Because contractors have shown that the property owner’s insurance covered all damages, the subrogation waiver applies to bar the property owner’s claim.
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Opinions May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Daniel Lee Pierce v. State of Indiana
78S05-1407-CR-460
Criminal. Affirms Pierce’s convictions for molesting his three young granddaughters. Finds his abuse of the girls in his care was sufficiently connected, so he is not entitled to new and separate trials. Remands for the purpose of resentencing on one count of Class A felony child molesting because the trial court erred by suspending six years of Pierce’s 30-year sentence for that count. Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson concur in a separate opinion.
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  1. Actually, and most strikingly, the ruling failed to address the central issue to the whole case: Namely, Black Knight/LPS, who was NEVER a party to the State court litigation, and who is under a 2013 consent judgment in Indiana (where it has stipulated to the forgery of loan documents, the ones specifically at issue in my case)never disclosed itself in State court or remediated the forged loan documents as was REQUIRED of them by the CJ. In essence, what the court is willfully ignoring, is that it is setting a precedent that the supplier of a defective product, one whom is under a consent judgment stipulating to such, and under obligation to remediate said defective product, can: 1.) Ignore the CJ 2.) Allow counsel to commit fraud on the state court 3.) Then try to hide behind Rooker Feldman doctrine as a bar to being held culpable in federal court. The problem here is the court is in direct conflict with its own ruling(s) in Johnson v. Pushpin Holdings & Iqbal- 780 F.3d 728, at 730 “What Johnson adds - what the defendants in this suit have failed to appreciate—is that federal courts retain jurisdiction to award damages for fraud that imposes extrajudicial injury. The Supreme Court drew that very line in Exxon Mobil ... Iqbal alleges that the defendants conducted a racketeering enterprise that predates the state court’s judgments ...but Exxon Mobil shows that the Rooker Feldman doctrine asks what injury the plaintiff asks the federal court to redress, not whether the injury is “intertwined” with something else …Because Iqbal seeks damages for activity that (he alleges) predates the state litigation and caused injury independently of it, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not block this suit. It must be reinstated.” So, as I already noted to others, I now have the chance to bring my case to SCOTUS; the ruling by Wood & Posner is flawed on numerous levels,BUT most troubling is the fact that the authors KNOW it's a flawed ruling and choose to ignore the flaws for one simple reason: The courts have decided to agree with former AG Eric Holder that national banks "Are too big to fail" and must win at any cost-even that of due process, case precedent, & the truth....Let's see if SCOTUS wants a bite at the apple.

  2. I am in NJ & just found out that there is a judgment against me in an action by Driver's Solutions LLC in IN. I was never served with any Court pleadings, etc. and the only thing that I can find out is that they were using an old Staten Island NY address for me. I have been in NJ for over 20 years and cannot get any response from Drivers Solutions in IN. They have a different lawyer now. I need to get this vacated or stopped - it is now almost double & at 18%. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. I am in NJ & just found out that there is a judgment against me in an action by Driver's Solutions LLC in IN. I was never served with any Court pleadings, etc. and the only thing that I can find out is that they were using an old Staten Island NY address for me. I have been in NJ for over 20 years and cannot get any response from Drivers Solutions in IN. They have a different lawyer now. I need to get this vacated or stopped - it is now almost double & at 18%. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  4. Please I need help with my class action lawsuits, im currently in pro-se and im having hard time findiNG A LAWYER TO ASSIST ME

  5. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

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