Opinions

Opinions Sept. 18, 2015

September 18, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Blake Layman & Levi Sparks v. State of Indiana
20S04-1509-CR-548.
Criminal. Vacates conviction of murder and remands for entry of conviction of Class B felony burglary and for Layman and Sparks to be resentenced accordingly. Members of the “Elkhart 4,” Layman and Sparks were convicted of murder in the death of Danzele Johnson, who was shot by a homeowner whose house the suspects burglarized. There was simply nothing about the Appellants’ conduct or the conduct of their cohorts that was ‘clearly the mediate or immediate cause’ of their friend’s death, the court held.
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Opinions Sept. 17, 2015

September 17, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Tywaun Carter v. State of Indiana
49A04-1502-CR-52
Criminal. Affirms Carter’s conviction of two counts of Level 1 felony rape and 32-year sentence on each count to be served concurrently in the Indiana Department of Correction. Finds the victim’s work as a prostitute did not render her testimony and statements unbelievable, incredible or improbable. Rules the fact that the victim had been engaging in prostitution does not excuse Carter’s violent behavior or make his sentence inappropriate.  
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Opinions Sept. 16, 2015

September 16, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals

 

R.L. Turner Corporation v. William Wressell
06A05-1411-PL-540
Civil plenary. Affirms the trial court’s inclusion of fringe benefits in the calculation of total compensation and the calculation of attorney fees. Finds the trial court did not include any of Wressell’s overtime in its calculation of total compensation. Remands with instructions for the trial court to award Wressell an additional $1501.68.   

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Opinions Sept. 15, 2015

September 15, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Hoker Trucking, LLC and Linda L. Phillips v. Pamela K. Robbins, as Administratrix of the Estate of Mike Douglas Robbins Deceased
89A01-1411-CT-468
Civil tort. Reverses award of attorney fees and prejudgment interest to Pamela Robbins. Finds as the surviving spouse, Robbins is not entitled to recover attorney costs under the adult provision (Indiana Code 34-23-1-2) in the Indiana general wrongful death statute.
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Opinions Sept. 14, 2015

September 14, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Bryan E. Mitten v. Cynthia L. Mitten
11A01-1501-DR-8
Domestic. Affirms determination of Bryan E. Mitten’s child support obligations and division of the parties’ debts. The trial court ordered that the adoptive father pay $235 per week in child support retroactive to the filing of the divorce petition. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining support, and there was no error in the trial court’s division of debt.
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Opinions Sept. 11, 2015

September 11, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Robert Blackford v. Boone County Area Plan Commission and Boone County Drainage Board
06A01-1410-MI-437
Miscellaneous. Affirms denial of Blackford’s oral request for a continuance made on the day of trial. Finds Blackford did not articulate any good cause for a continuance or show that he would be prejudiced.
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Opinions Sept. 10, 2015

September 10, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Dennis Boyer and Richard Smith v. Ernest Smith, Suzanne Cassidy, Esq., and In-Plas, Inc.
15S01-1509-CT-526
Civil tort. Affirms trial court ruling that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Cassidy, an attorney licensed in Kentucky. Rules Cassidy’s contacts with Indiana were products of her relationship with the plaintiffs and her client.
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Opinions Sept. 9, 2015

September 9, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
The following opinion was posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
United States of America v. Eugene Clarke
14-3515
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division
Judge Rudy Lozano
Criminal. Affirms conviction for seven counts of filing a false claim with the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. 287. Rules the government did not have to prove Clarke willfully submitted false claims. Finds Clarke’s “patently false and utterly groundless” tax returns provided sufficient evidence that he knew he was filing claims with false information. Concludes the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to give Clarke’s good faith instruction to the jury.
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Opinions Sept. 8, 2015

September 8, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Deonte R. Hester v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
82A01-1411-CR-515
Criminal. Affirms 30-year aggregate sentence and convictions of Class A felony possession of cocaine, Class C felony operating a vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life and Class A misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana.
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Opinions Sept. 4, 2015

September 4, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Grace Schools, et al., and Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., et al. v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, et al.
14-1430-1431
Appeals from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
Judge Jon De Guilio
Civil. Reverses preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiffs, preventing the federal government from enforcing the “contraceptive mandate” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, extends the injunction for 60 days to allow the District Court the time to address additional arguments made by the parties. Finds the accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs. Judge Daniel Manion dissents, arguing nonprofits have shown accommodation violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Opinions Sept. 3, 2015

September 3, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Memory Gardens Management Corporation, Inc. v. Liberty Equity Partners, LLC, and Old Bridge Funeral Home, LLC
49A02-1501-CC-1
Civil collection. Affirms grant of the Old Bridge parties’ motion for summary judgment and affirms the denial of Memory Gardens’ cross-motion for summary judgment. Remands to decide reasonable appellate attorney fees. Finds Memory Gardens’ failure to object to receiver’s final report forever bars it from claiming the $450,000 demand note. Also rules receiver abandoned Memory Gardens’ claims for the demand note.
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Opinions Sept. 2, 2015

September 2, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
David Anderson, Joe Wray, John Kennard, Commissioners, and Board of Trustees, Brown County Fire Protection District v. Susanne Gaudin, Janet Kramer, and Ruth Reichmann
07S01-1505-PL-284
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment finding that a county board of commissioners lacked authority to amend an ordinance that previously established a countywide fire protection district. Majority concludes that under the Home Rule Act, boards of county commissioners are authorized to amend fire protection districts, even if an amendment dissolves the district. The opinion written by Justice Brent Dickson was joined by Justice Mark Massa and Chief Justice Loretta Rush; Justice Steven David concurred with a separate opinion. Justice Robert Rucker dissented and would affirm the trial court judgment in favor of property owners.
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Opinions Sept. 1, 2015

September 1, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Neal D. Secrease Jr. v. The Western & Southern Life Insurance Co., et al.

15-1328.
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson
Civil. Affirms District Court dismissal with prejudice of Secrease’s sex and age discrimination and retaliation complaints. While the sanction of dismissal with prejudice is severe, it is justified in this case where Secrease attempted to perpetrate a fraud on the court by submitting a purported employment contract that contained an arbitration agreement that was not a provision in the contract he signed.
 
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Opinions Aug. 31, 2015

August 31, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Michael A. Kelley v. Greg Zoeller, Indiana Attorney General
14-2961
Appeal from the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division
Judge Theresa L. Springmann
Affirms the District Court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction of Kelley’s suit alleging that under a plea deal struck in a robbery case in 1975, his conviction should have been expunged. No expungement statute existed then, and Indiana courts have determined that Kelley waited too long to challenge the 1975 robbery conviction.
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Opinions Aug. 28, 2015

August 28, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Saint Catherine Hospital of Indiana, LLC v. Indiana Family and Social Services  Administration
14-2420 & 142546
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division
Judge Sarah Evans Barker
Civil. Reverses the District Court’s order which allowed FSSA to keep the Hospital Assessment Fee it collected from St. Catherine for fiscal year 2013. Finds the 2013 HAF assessment was based on the hospital’s cost reports before it filed for bankruptcy. Concludes the claim is subject to the automatic stay.
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Opinions Aug. 27, 2015

August 27, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
C.W. and E.W., by Guardians and Next Friends Adele A. Wood and Jason A. Wood v. Textron, Inc.
14-3448
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division
Chief Judge Philip P. Simon
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Textron. Finds the testimony of the three experts was properly excluded because none provided a direct link between vinyl chloride exposure and the illnesses experienced by C.W. and E.W. Disagrees with the District Court’s rationale regarding causation. Adopts 2nd Circuit approach that differential etiology is sufficient to help prove both general and specific causation.
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Opinions Aug. 26, 2015

August 26, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Eric V. Harden v. Marion County Sheriff’s Department
14-1713
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Civil. Affirms grant of summary judgment for the sheriff’s department. Finds Harden did not offer any evidence that supports his claim that he was fired in retaliation for testifying on behalf of African-American officers in a race discrimination investigation. Determines the internal affairs investigation of a theft that led to Harden’s termination was not a “sham” and a reasonable jury could find the investigation worthy of credence.
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Opinions Aug. 25, 2015

August 25, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
D.S. b/n/f George M. Stahl and Debbie Lynn Stahl v. East Porter County School Corporation, et al.
13-3549
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division
Magistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the school corporation defendants, finding that in bringing a suit over alleged bullying at school, the plaintiffs did not offer sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact under the state-created danger standard.
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Opinions Aug. 24, 2015

August 24, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
JMB Manufacturing Inc., d/b/a/ Summit Forest Products Co. v. Child Craft, LLC, et al
14-3306
Harrison Manufacturing, LLC, f/k/a Child Craft, LLC v. Ron Bienias
14-3315
Civil tort. Reverses judgment on Child Craft’s negligent misrepresentation counterclaim against Bienias and Summit. Directs the District Court to enter final judgment in favor of Bienias and Summit on that counterclaim. Affirms dismissal of Child Craft’s breach of contract against Summit and Summit’s claims against Child Craft.  
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Opinions Aug. 21, 2015

August 21, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court    
In Re the Involuntary Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.E., a Minor Child, and His Father, J.E., and His Mother, S.S. v. Ind. Dept. of Child Services
82S04-1508-JT-491
Juvenile. Reverses termination of parental rights of J.E. to his son, K.E. Finds although J.E. is currently incarcerated, he has taken steps to improve himself, address his drug addiction and bond with his child. Concludes the evidence is not sufficient to support the reasonable probability that the conditions that led to K.E.’s removal are unlikely to be remedied or that J.E. poses a threat to the child.
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Opinions Aug. 19, 2015

August 19, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Kyle D. Alaura v. Carolyn W. Colvin
15-1727
Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
Chief Judge Philip P. Simon
Agency action. Reverses denial of application for total disability benefits, which was premature, and remands to the District Court for further consideration of Alaura’s claim.
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Opinions Aug. 18, 2015

August 18, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Carlton Hart v. Christine Mannina, et al.
14-1347
Appeal from the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Judge William T. Lawrence
Affirms grant of summary judgment in favor of Mannina, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective, and other police defendants. Hart was arrested in a murder investigation recorded for the reality television series “The Shift,” but charges later were dismissed. He sued police and the city claiming various violations of his constitutional rights. Because police had probable cause to arrest him, summary judgment in favor of the defendants was neither an abuse of discretion nor actual and substantial prejudice.
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Opinions Aug. 17, 2015

August 17, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Rebecca Riker v. Bruce Lemmon, in his official capacity, et al.
14-2910
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Civil. Reverses District Court grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants on Riker’s claim that she was improperly denied permission to marry a Department of Correction inmate. Riker is a former contract employee at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility who was terminated after a sexual relationship with an inmate. The District Court erred in granting summary judgment and concluding the DOC’s denial of her request for a one-time visit to participate in a marriage ceremony did not violate her constitutional right to marry.
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Opinions Aug. 14, 2015

August 14, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Robert E. Spierer, et al. v. Corey E. Rossman, et al.
14-3171
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of defendants sued by the family of missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. Plaintiffs failed to state a plausible claim under Indiana common law for negligence.
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Opinions Aug. 13, 2015

August 13, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Wayne Kubsch v. Ron Neal, superintendent, Indiana State Prison
14-1898
Appeal from the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division
Chief Judge Philip Simon
Criminal. Affirms denial of Kubsch’s habeas corpus petition. Majority rules the exclusion of testimony by neighbors which could have exonerated Kubsch was hearsay and, therefore, not admissible. In a dissent, Chief Judge Diane Wood argues the testimony should have been admitted under Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284 (1973).
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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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