Opinions

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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Opinions May 12, 2015

May 12, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Michael A. Knoll and Dax G. Shephard; Appeal of: Bob Henson
14-3027
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Criminal. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the government on Henson’s claim he had a legal right, title or interest in the Indianapolis or Fort Wayne properties forfeited to the government after Outlaw members Knoll and Shephard pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. But Henson did not present evidence showing he had a legal right, title or interest, and his statement indicated his interest did not begin until after the raid occurred in 2012.
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Opinions May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Mary K. Davis v. State of Indiana
20A03-1411-PC-408
Post conviction. Reverses denial of petition for post-conviction relief. Orders Davis immediately released pending resolution of this appeal. The post-conviction court’s findings and conclusions were contrary to law. The state’s notice of violation was filed on the day Davis’ probation ended such that there was no period of probation to be tolled, which means the trial court could not continue her terms of probation pursuant to Ind. Code § 35-38-2-3(c).
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  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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