Opinions

Opinions Feb. 1, 2017

February 1, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Menard, Inc. v. Reba Lane
45A03-1606-CT-1283
Civil tort. Affirms the denial of Menard Inc.’s motion to set aside the default judgment entered in favor of Reba Lane when Menard failed to appear or defend itself against her personal injury suit. Finds the Lake Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in denying Menard’s motion. Also finds Lane attempted service of her compliant and summons in multiple ways, all of which conformed with the requirements of the Indiana Trial Rules and that Lane’s attorney did not engage in misconduct when she did not notify the two law firms who had represented Menard in the past. Finally, finds that the breakdown in communication between Menard employees regarding the summons and complaint was not excusable neglect.
 
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Opinions Jan. 31, 2017

January 31, 2017
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Estate of William A. Miller, by its representatives Patrick T. Chassie and Linda Wilkerson v. Helen J. Marberry and Gary Rogers.

15-1497.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.
Prisoner. Affirms the grant of summary judgment to Helen Marberry and Gary Rogers. Judge Richard Posner dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions Jan. 30, 2017

January 30, 2017
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Legato Vapors, LLC, et al and Right to be Smoke-Free Coalition, Inc. v. David Cook, et al
16-3071
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Reverses the judgment of the district court dismissing the case. Remands with instructions to enjoin enforcement of the challenged provisions of the Vapor Pens and E-Liquids Act against the plaintiffs and to declare the challenged provisions unenforceable against out-of-state manufacturers. Finds that Indiana may not try to achieve health and safety goals by directly regulating out-of-state factories and commercial transactions. Also finds that as applied to out-of-state manufacturers, the challenged provisions of the act violate the dormant Commerce Clause prohibition against extraterritorial legislation.
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Opinions Jan. 27, 2017

January 27, 2017
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Lana Canen v. Dennis Chapman, in his individual capacity as Deputy for the Elkhart County Sheriff Department
16-1621
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. Judge Rudy Lozano.
Civil. Affirms the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana’s dismissal of Lana Canen’s case at summary judgment on the grounds that Dennis Chapman was entitled to qualified immunity. Finds that Detective Chapman's failure to disclose that he was not trained as a latent print examiner cannot be characterized as a violation of any clearly established right and, accordingly, the doctrine of qualified immunity protects him. Also finds that to the degree that this action is premised on the preparation or presentation of his trial testimony, absolute immunity protects Chapman.
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Opinions Jan. 26, 2017

January 26, 2017
Indiana Supreme Court
Demajio Ellis v. State of Indiana
71S05-1606-PC-360
Post-conviction. Reverses the denial of Demajio Ellis’ post-conviction relief. Finds that Ellis’ guilty plea to four Class A felony offenses was invalid because at the time he entered the plea, he also professed his innocence.
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Opinions Jan. 25, 2017

January 25, 2017
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Rollie M. Mitchell v. United States of America
14-3759
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Affirms the denial of Rollie Mitchell’s motion for post-conviction review. Finds that Bruce Brattain did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel.
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Opinions Jan. 24, 2017

January 24, 2017
Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of: Narles W. Coleman
98S00-1301-DI-52
Disciplinary. Suspends Narles W. Coleman from the practice of law in Indiana for at least two years without automatic reinstatement. Finds Coleman engaged in numerous acts of attorney misconduct in connection with his representation of a client and subsequent civil suit against that client and by committing domestic battery against his wife.
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Opinions Jan. 23, 2017

January 23, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
GHPE Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical v. Jason Huxley
49A02-1601-PL-164
Civil plenary. Affirms the Marion Superior Court damages award on Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical’s counterclaim and its refusal to award treble damages or attorney fees to Godby. Reverses the trial court’s award of $972.71 in base wages to Jason Huxley, as well as the doubling of that amount as liquidated damages. Remands for calculation of the wages to which Huxley is entitled after consideration of mandatory tax withholding only. Also remands for recalculation of the reasonable appellate attorney fees to which Huxley is entitled with respect to defending the Wage Payment Act judgment only.
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Opinions Jan. 20, 2017

January 20, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Kevin T. Williams v. Unifund CCR, LLC
71A04-1604-CC-901
Civil collection. Reverses the St. Joseph Circuit Court’s judgment in favor of Unifund CCR LLC on Unifund’s complaint against Kevin T. Williams for nonpayment of credit card debt. Finds the trial court abused its discretion in entering judgment in favor of Unifund.
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Opinions Jan. 19, 2017

January 19, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Dermatology Associates, P.C. and Sonya Campbell Johnson, M.D. v. Elizabeth C. White v. Commissioner of Indiana Department of Insurance, and Douglas J. Hill, Esq., Medical Review Panel Chair
49A02-1512-PL-2189
Civil plenary. Reverses the Marion Superior Court’s denial of Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson at Dermatology Associates P.C.’s motion for summary judgment alleging Elizabeth White failed to timely file her claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance. Finds the statute of limitations bars White’s action and the providers are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Judge Paul Mathias dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions Jan. 18, 2017

January 18, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Elberta N. Jackson v. State of Indiana
27A02-1607-CR-1717
Criminal. Affirms Elberta N. Jackson’s conviction for operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least 0.15 as a Class A misdemeanor, resisting law enforcement as a Class A misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct as a Class B misdemeanor. Finds that there is sufficient evidence to support Jackson’s conviction and that her due process rights were not violated.
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Opinions Jan. 17, 2017

January 17, 2017

Indiana Court of Appeals
In Re: the Grandparent Visitation of G.S., J.S. v. M.S.
30A01-1608-DR-1801
Domestic relation. Reverses in part a Hancock Circuit Court order mandating G.S. be permitted to have contact with other paternal relatives when participating in grandparent visitation with M.S. Finds there is no statutory authority for a trial court to order a child to have visitation with anyone other than a grandparent in the face of a parent’s objections.

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Opinions Jan. 13, 2017

January 13, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Rodney Tyms-Bey v. State of Indiana
49A05-1603-CR-439
Criminal. Affirms the trial court’s order granting the state’s motion to strike Rodney Tyms-Bey’s notice of defense under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Finds as a matter of law that the state’s compelling interest in a uniform and mandatory taxation system falls into the statutory exception such that RFRA affords no relief to Tyms-Bey. Remands for proceedings. Judge Edward Najam dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions Jan. 12, 2017

January 12, 2017
The following Indiana Tax Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Wednesday:
Merchandise Warehouse Co., Inc. v. Indiana Department of State Revenue

49T10-1302
Tax. Grants summary judgment in favor of the Indiana Department of State Revenue and against Merchandise Warehouse Co., Inc. Finds that Merchandise Warehouse’s purchase of freezer equipment and electricity to power that equipment was not exempt from Indiana sales tax under Indiana Code 6-2.5-5-3 and 6-1.5-5-5.1. Also finds that Merchandise Warehouse does not produce other tangible personal property in an integrated production process when it freezes its customers’ food products.
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Opinions Jan. 11, 2017

January 11, 2017
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Stephen H. Perron and the United States Bankruptcy Trustee for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of Christine M. Jackson v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A.
15-2206
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment for Chase Bank in ex-couple Perron and Jackson’s lawsuit claiming the bank’s response to a misapplied insurance payment, seeking more than $300,000 in damages, caused their divorce. To the extent that any requested information was missing, Perron and Jackson suffered no actual damages and thus have no viable claim, nor did the bank breach the duty of good faith and fair dealing.
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Opinions Jan. 10, 2017

January 10, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jacob Skipworth v. State of Indiana

49A02-1605-CR-973
Criminal. Affirms the Marion Superior Court’s decision to order Jacob Skipworth to complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling as a condition of his probation for his convictions of criminal confinement and strangulation, both Level 6 felonies. Finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering domestic violence counseling. Also finds that the trial court’s sentencing order and abstract of judgment contain clerical errors. Remands with instructions to correct the clerical errors.
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Opinions Jan. 9, 2017

January 9, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
William Groth v. Mike Pence, as Governor of the State of Indiana

49A04-1605-PL-1116
Civil plenary.  Affirms the Marion Superior Court decision finding former Gov. Mike Pence’s response to William Groth’s Access to Public Records Act request for records related to his decision to join a Texas lawsuit against the President of the United States was proper under the Access to Public Records Act. Finds that Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. Koch, 51 N.E.3d 236 (Ind. 2016), does not apply to the request for public records directed to the governor. Also finds that the trial court did not violate Groth’s due process rights. Finally, affirms on the merits the governor’s decision to withhold the white paper from public disclosure and to partially redacted the invoices because the white paper contains legal theories in contemplation of litigation and that the governor’s redactions were within his discretion under APRA. Rejects Pence’s claim that executive privilege renders his response to APRA requests immune from judicial review. Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik concurs in part and dissents in part in separate opinion.
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Opinions Jan. 6, 2017

January 6, 2017
Indiana Court of Appeals
Mario Deon Watkins v. State of Indiana
82A01-1510-CR-1624
Criminal. Reverses Mario Deon Watkins’ convictions for two counts of possession of a controlled substance as Class A misdemeanors, possession of cocaine as a Level 6 felony, possession of marijuana as a Class B misdemeanor and maintaining a common nuisance as a Level 6 felony. Finds that while there was a considerable degree of suspicion, the extent of law enforcement needs for a military-style assault was low and the degree of intrusion was unreasonably high. Judge Melissa May dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions Jan. 3, 2017

January 3, 2017

Indiana Supreme Court
Kennedy Tank & MFG. Co., Inc., and Hemlock Semiconductor Operations LLC and Hemlock Semiconductor, LLC v. Emmert Industrial Corporation d/b/a Emmert International
49S02-1608-CT-431
Civil tort. Finds on an issue of first impression that Indiana’s 10-year statute of limitations is not preempted by the federal statute of limitations in the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act. Finds that Congress’ purpose was not to preempt state statutes of limitations and that Indiana’s statute of limitations does not do major damage to the ICCTA’s deregulatory purpose. Thus, Emmert Industrial Corp.’s collection claim against Kennedy Tank & Manufacturing Co. can proceed.

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Opinions Dec. 29, 2016

December 29, 2016
Indiana Court of Appeals
Angela R. Neal v. State of Indiana
20A04-1606-CR-1326
Criminal. Affirms that the Elkhart Superior Court’s advisement of the consequences of Angela R. Neal’s status as a credit-restricted felon complied with Indiana Code 35-38-1-7.8(c). Finds there is no particular language that a trial court must use in order to comply with the statute.
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Opinions Dec. 28, 2016

December 28, 2016
Indiana Court of Appeals
Stardust Ventures, LLC v. Gary Roberts and Teresa Roberts
33A01-1603-PL-604
Civil plenary. Reverses the Henry Circuit Court’s denial of Stardust Ventures LLC’s motion to dismiss a suit brought by Gary and Teresa Roberts to recover $75,000 paid to Stardust. Finds that the purchase agreement is a valid and binding contract between the parties and that Stardust did not waive its right to request arbitration. Remands to the trial court to enter an order compelling arbitration.

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Opinions Dec. 27, 2016

December 27, 2016
Indiana Court of Appeals
P. Kevin Barkal, M.D. and Pemcor, Inc. v. Gouveia & Associates
45A03-1607-CT-1601
Civil tort. Affirms the Lake Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to Gouveia & Associates, concluding that Dr. P. Kevin Barkal and Pemcor Inc. failed to designate expert testimony establishing that Gouevia breached the standard of care in his legal representation of Pemcor in the underlying bankruptcy case.
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Opinions Dec. 22, 2016

December 22, 2016
Indiana Court of Appeals
M.T.V. v. State of Indiana
36A05-1607-JV-1681
Juvenile. Affirms M.T.V.’s adjudication of delinquency for conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony if committed by an adult. Finds that the Jackson Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Facebook conversations containing statements made by M.T.V. and his co-conspirator and that the evidence is sufficient to support his delinquency adjudication.
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Opinions Dec. 21, 2016

December 21, 2016
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Bruce Jones
15-1792
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Criminal. Affirms Bruce Jones’ convictions of three counts of possessing firearms and ammunition and one count of health care fraud. Finds that because Jones never objected to the restraint on his life insurance policies, the district court had no reason to probe those matters in an evidentiary hearing. Also finds that the judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Jones’ request for appointment of new counsel and that the judge apprised Jones of his constitutional right to testify, which he waived. Finally, finds that the judge did not miscalculate the sentencing guideline range for his firearms offenses by taking into account his 1985 felony conviction for a controlled substance offense.
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Opinions Dec. 20, 2016

December 20, 2016
Indiana Tax Court
Orbitz, LLC v. Indiana Department of Revenue
49T10-0903-TA-10
Tax. Grants summary judgment in favor of Orbitz LLC and against the Indiana Department of Revenue. Finds that during the period at issue, the department erred in issuing sales and innkeeper’s tax assessments against Orbitz based on the retail rate of Indiana hotel rooms as a matter of law because the hoteliers, as the retail merchants, were liable for the taxes, not Orbitz.
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