Small Claims

Indiana Legal Services’ pilot project offers on-the-spot help to small claims defendants

June 28, 2017
Marilyn Odendahl
The Tenant Assistance Program clinic offers triage services for tenants who have eviction notices and are appearing in court that day.
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ILS project aims to help tenants avoid eviction

June 14, 2017
IL Staff
Indiana Legal Services Inc. has launched a pilot program in Indianapolis specifically to help individuals and families facing eviction.
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Failure to sign order sends dog dispute back to court

May 30, 2017
Marilyn Odendahl
Noting the plaintiff may want to let a sleeping dog lie, the Indiana Court of Appeals remanded a decision to the trial court, finding the judge had not signed the order awarding custody of a dog named Snickers.
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Law firm miscue in small claims case gets no relief on appeal

February 17, 2017
Dave Stafford
A law firm that failed to respond to an Allen County small claims court’s inquiry about settlement discussions because the attorney handling the case had left the firm got no relief Friday from the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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COA orders man to pay remaining balance on lease of totaled car

February 15, 2017
Olivia Covington
A divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed an order requiring a man to pay the remaining balance on the lease of a woman’s car after he totaled it in a collision for which he was found to be completely at fault.
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Lack of jurisdiction keeps cemetery case in court

November 23, 2016
Olivia Covington
A woman’s fight to bury her mother in a burial site that she had purchased but that was mistakenly resold will continue after the Indiana Court of Appeals found that a small claims court did not have jurisdiction to grant her injunctive relief.
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COA orders couple to pay fees to lot owner’s association

September 13, 2016
Olivia Covington
The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a couple to pay a Bartholomew County lot owner’s association $6,000 in assessment fees despite the couple’s claim that they are not members of the association.
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COA: Seller not liable for undisclosed septic system

June 23, 2016
Scott Roberts
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed judgment against a man who claimed fraud because he was not told the property he bought was connected to a septic system.
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'Abusive litigant' loses appeal for damages

May 23, 2016
Scott Roberts
The Indiana Court of Appeals denied a prolific litigant's attempt to get more than $30,000 in damages after he claimed a printer he purchased online for less than $75 did not work and then sued for thousands of dollars in damages.
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COA: Agreed judgment not appealable

April 7, 2016
Scott Roberts
The Indiana Court of Appeals said an agreed judgment is not appealable and reversed a Marion Superior Court decision that ruled in favor of a woman who prolonged judgment in the court so she wouldn’t have to pay $850 in medical bills and fees.
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Roommate’s liability in early exit from lease rightly decided

September 22, 2015
Dave Stafford
A woman who appealed a small claims court order against her former live-in boyfriend failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that he owed her more money for moving out before their apartment lease was up.
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Despite rebuke, Court of Appeals tosses default judgment

July 6, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
A defendant who consistently failed to appear for scheduled hearings in small claims court gained a reprieve, but with an admonishment, from the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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Lawmakers pass Marion Co. small claims reforms

April 29, 2015
Dave Stafford
The General Assembly Wednesday afternoon passed modest reforms of the nine township small claims courts in Marion County, a far cry from recommendations of multiple judicial studies to restructure the courts.
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Landscaper’s attorney fails to explain fee

April 20, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
A landscaping company’s award for attorney fees has been sent back to small claims court for reconsideration after the business and the attorney failed to submit documentation supporting the fee amount.
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Center Township Small Claims Court makes move Supreme Court previously blocked

March 11, 2015
Dave Stafford
New Center Township Small Claims Court Judge Brenda Roper is holding court in a new Marion County location that the Indiana Supreme Court less than two years ago found had significant access-to-justice issues.
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Marion County small claims court bill passes Senate

February 25, 2015
Dave Stafford
A proposal that would leave the long-criticized Marion County township small claims courts intact with modest changes has cleared the Indiana Senate. The bill would raise the limit on disputes from the current $6,000 to $8,000.
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2014 Year in Review

December 31, 2014
IL Staff
This year could be described as a historic one for Indiana. The state's ban on gay marriage was overturned by the courts, and, for the first time, a woman was chosen as chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. In fact, women are leading most of the courts in Indiana. In 2014, we saw changes in the law schools, a new criminal code implemented, and attorneys in trouble with the court and the law. (Remember the attorney who doesn't like to wear socks?)
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COA: Man entitled to have attorney present at small claim hearing

November 21, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
Finding that a businessman who was confused as to whether he needed his attorney to appear in a small claims case was denied the basic right of representation, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of his motion for a continuance.
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Ex-Center Township judge agrees to ban from bench

November 7, 2014
Dave Stafford
A former Marion County Small Claims Court judge has agreed to a lifetime ban from holding judicial office after allegations that she used her position to profit from a wedding business.
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INBOX: Keep Marion County Small Claims out of Superior Court

October 8, 2014
A reader believes the rational solution to issues in Marion County Small Claims Courts is to keep the system as it is and not move it to Marion Superior Court.
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Marion County small claims reform faces hurdles in Legislature

September 10, 2014
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court’s recommendation to merge Marion County’s nine township small claims courts with Marion Superior Court may be too bold for the Indiana General Assembly, a key senator said.
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Supreme Court recommends abolishing Marion County township courts

September 2, 2014
Dave Stafford
A report from the National Center for State Courts recommends the nine township small claims venues in Indianapolis transition into a unified section of Marion Superior Courts. The Indiana Supreme Court is asking lawmakers to abolish the current system and unify them with the Superior Courts’ Civil Division effective Jan. 1, 2016.
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Ruling may expedite demise of Marion County township venues

July 16, 2014
Dave Stafford
Marion County’s unique township small claims courts may be on the verge of extinction, hastened by a game-changing ruling this month by the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Divided 7th Circuit revives Marion County Small Claims suit

July 3, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
More than eight months after Judge Richard Posner argued in a dissent that Newsom v. Friedman needs to be overruled, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals did just that in an en banc decision involving Marion County’s Township courts.
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Landlords timely delivered itemized damages notice to former tenants

June 26, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The date a tenant provides her forwarding address to her landlord triggers the 45-day period the landlord has to deliver the itemized damages to the tenant, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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