Opinions

Opinions June 6, 2011

June 6, 2011

Indiana Court of Appeals
Estate of Verna D. Carter v. Holly F. Szymczak
71A04-1008-CT-472
Civil tort. Affirms jury verdict of $125,000 in favor of Szymczak on her negligence complaint against Carter alleging her negligence caused a car accident and injury to Szymczak. Based on the evidence, a reasonable jury could infer that Carter made an unsafe lane change, negligently causing the collision and injury to Szymczak. The trial court did not err in allowing the Permanent Partial Impairment rating evidence to be admitted.

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Opinions June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Maetta Vance v. Ball State University, et al.
08-3568
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Affirms District Court’s summary judgment for the defendants and dismissal of discrimination lawsuit, stating the plaintiff failed to prove that her treatment at work was in any way affected by her race, and that the plaintiff did not prove that Ball State University was negligent in taking steps to remediate reported harassment.
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Opinions June 2, 2011

June 2, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Larry Ault v. State of Indiana
49A04-1008-CR-492
Criminal. Reverses conviction of felony murder and remands for a new trial. There was sufficient evidence, without Ault’s testimony, to support a jury instruction on self-defense.
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Opinions June 1, 2011

June 1, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
Jeffery Sloan v. State of Indiana
18S04-1009-CR-502
Criminal. Affirms convictions of and sentence for Class A felony and Class C felony child molesting. Holds once concealment has been established, statutes of limitations for criminal offenses are tolled under Indiana Code 35-41-4-2(h) until a prosecuting authority becomes aware or should have become aware of sufficient evidence to charge the defendant. Also holds that under the facts of this case, there was no double jeopardy violation because each challenged offense was established by separate and distinct facts. Justices Sullivan and Rucker dissent.
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Opinions May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Dennis Block v. Mark Magura
64A05-1012-PL-752
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment for Magura on Block’s lawsuit filed after Magura didn’t complete the purchase of Block’s interest in a partnership. The letter of intent is an enforceable contract because it contains the essential terms of the parties’ agreement and expresses their intent to be bound. Remands for summary judgment in favor of Block as to Magura’s liability for breach of contract and to conduct further proceedings with respect to damages.
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Opinions May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011
In the Matter of the Honorable William J. Hughes, Judge of the Hamilton Superior Court
29S00-1105-JD-279
Judicial discliplinary action. Reprimands Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes, terminating disciplinary proceedings relating to the circumstances giving rise to the cause.
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Opinions May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jerry French, et al. v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company
18A02-1005-PL-489
Civil plenary. Affirms the trial court properly denied summary judgment for both parties on the question of whether the insurance policy terms covered the cost of replacing the Frenches’ manufactured home with a stick-built one. Remands with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of State Farm on the Frenches’ coverage-by-estoppel claim because there is no dispute that coverage exists; to enter summary judgment for the Frenches on the question of reformation of the policy based on mutual mistake of fact and rescission of the policy based on concealment of material facts by the Frenches. Remands for trial on whether State Farm should be liable for the costs of a stick-built home.
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Opinions May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Estate of Bradley Kinser, et al. v. Indiana Insurance Company
29A02-1009-PL-1093
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Indiana Insurance on its motion for declaratory judgment that it’s not obligated to cover any losses following Bradley Kinser’s accident and death while driving his girlfriend’s car because his policy excluded coverage for a vehicle furnished or available for his regular use. A genuine issue of material fact remains as to the scope and extent that Kinser felt he needed his girlfriend’s permission to drive her car, which affects the determination of whether the car was furnished or available for his regular use.
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Opinions May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
S.W. by P.W. v. B.K.
71A03-1012-PO-655
Protective order. Reverses trial court’s denial of S.W.’s motion to correct error, remands for a hearing on civil contempt petition, and orders S.W. to be reimbursed $250 appellate filing fee. Held that Indiana code states filing fees will not be assessed for a proceeding seeking relief from or enforcement of a civil protective order.
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Opinions, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011

Indiana Court of Appeals
Jimmie E. Jones, Jr. v. State of Indiana
29A02-1008-CR-935
Criminal. Affirms conviction for felony murder, stating that the trial court did not err by refusing Jimmie Jones’s tendered instructions on reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter, as evidence suggests Jones knowingly and willingly killed the victim.

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Opinions May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Digitech Computer, Inc. v. Trans-Care, Inc.
10-1525 & 10-1652
Civil. Affirms decisions on fraud and breach of contract, but vacates damages awarded and remands for a new calculation of damages and fees in accordance with opinion.
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Opinions May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011

Indiana Court of Appeals
James S. Tracy v. Steve Morell, et al.
59A01-1009-PL-488
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court’s ruling that James Tracy failed to meet his burden of proof on his fraud claim in the sale of a tractor. Reverses court’s ruling that Tracy owed a balance on the promissory note, stating the contract for sale of the tractor is unenforceable because there was a mutual mistake of fact between the parties and the contract violates public policy. Holds that Tracy is entitled to the contract for sale of the tractor and to a money judgment in the amount he has paid on the note together with interest.

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Opinions May 18, 2011

May 18, 2011

Tyrus D. Coleman v. State of Indiana
20S03-1008-CR-458
Criminal. Affirms Coleman’s conviction of and sentence for attempted murder. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t preclude the state from retrying a defendant where in the first trial the jury acquitted him of murder with respect to one person but failed to return a verdict on a charge of attempted murder with respect to another man.

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Opinions May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011

Indiana Court of Appeals
Citimortgage, Inc. v. Shannon S. Barabas, et al.
48A04-1004-CC-232
Civil collection. Affirms grant of amended default judgment in favor of ReCasa Financial Group and Rick Sanders. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it found that Indiana Code Section 32-29-8-3 precluded Citimortgage’s claim because Citimortgage failed to intervene more than a year after it first acquired interest in the property. When Irwin Mortgage filed a petition and disclaimed its interest in the foreclosure, MERS, as mere nominee and holder of nothing more than bare legal title to the mortgage, did not have an enforceable right under the mortgage separate from the interest held by Irwin Mortgage. Judge Brown dissents.

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Opinions May 13, 2011

May 13, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Melody D. Linenburg v. Mark A. Linenburg
82A01-1011-DR-625
Domestic relation. Affirms provisional order awarding father primary physical custody of the children and possession of the marital residence during the pendency of the dissolution proceeding. The mother failed to establish an abuse of discretion and the court declines to reweigh the evidence.
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Opinions May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
State ex rel. Gregory F. Zoeller v. Aisin USA Manufacturing, Inc.
36S01-1009-CV-469
Civil. Holds the attorney general’s attempt to recover a “tax refund” from Aisin in Jackson Superior Court may proceed. It does not arise under the tax laws because the “refund” was the result of accounting and clerical errors with in the Department of Revenue that were wholly unrelated to any interpretation or application of tax law. Justices Rucker and Dickson dissent.
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Opinions, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Bloomfield State Bank v. United States of America
10-3939
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, Judge Larry J. McKinney.
Civil. Reverses summary judgment for the government in the bank’s suit that rent collected on a property in which the bank provided the mortgage should to the bank, not to the IRS to go toward a tax lien. The real estate that generated the rental income at issue in this case existed when the mortgage was issued and thus before the tax lien attached; the rental income was proceeds of that property, which preexisted the tax lien. Remands with directions to enter judgment for the bank.
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Opinions May 10, 2011

May 10, 2011
Cornelius T. Lacey, Sr. v. State of Indiana
02S05-1010-CR-601
Criminal. Affirms denial of Lacey’s motion to suppress. The police did not have to present known supporting facts and obtain an advance judicial authorization for the no-knock entry. Summarily affirms the Indiana Court of Appeals as to all other issues.
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Opinions May 9, 2011

May 9, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Johnnie Stokes v. State of Indiana
49A04-1009-CR-578
Criminal. Affirms 44-year aggregate sentence for Class B felonies robbery, attempted robbery, and unlawful possession of a firearm, and Class C felony criminal recklessness. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in considering Stokes’ 2001 dealing in cocaine conviction and evidence of his extensive criminal record to enhance his sentences for his other present offenses. His sentences also do not violate the double jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution.
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Opinions May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Jermel C. Thomas
10-3566
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division,
Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Criminal. Dismisses appeal, stating the District Court did not err in enforcing a plea agreement wherein Jermel Thomas had waived his right to appeal his sentence and conviction.
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Opinions May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. John L. Norris
10-1612
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to suppress evidence. The police officers were acting pursuant to a valid warrant and in a reasonable manner.
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Opinions May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Robert Eppl v. Christine DiGiacomo
45A03-1007-SC-402
Small claim. Reverses summary judgment for DiGiacomo and order that Eppl return DiGiacomo’s security deposit and pay her attorney fees. DiGiacomo’s mere delivery of the keys is not sufficient to demonstrate that Eppl actually accepted surrender of the premises and thereby released her from liability as of that date. Eppl’s itemization of damages letter was timely.
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Opinions May 3, 2011

May 3, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Donald Leach
10-1786
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller Jr.
Criminal. Affirms denial of Leach’s motion to dismiss his indictment for knowingly failing to register as a sex offender after traveling in interstate commerce in violation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. There is no ex post facto violation of the United States Constitution.
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Opinions May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. David Lee Runyan
10-3400
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge James T. Moody.
Criminal. Affirms 63-year sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Runyan argued the District Court sentenced him without considering the care he gave his then-terminally ill father, but his argument rested on past caregiving rather than present caregiving and the District Court didn’t need to address it. Also finds the District Court’s commentary at sentencing to not be impermissibly one-sided.
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Opinions April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Steven A. Coppolillo v. Anthony Cort
45A05-1007-PL-433
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Cort on Coppolillo’s suit for unjust enrichment.  The parties’ contract does not preclude Coppolillo’s claim in equity against Cort. There is a material dispute of fact as to whether Cort was unjustly enriched. Remands for further proceedings.
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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