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Lack of transcript limits review of fire damages award on appeal

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A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected an appeal seeking full compensation after an Allen County fire in large part because the appealing party included no transcript of the trial court proceedings.

A jury found that a company breached its contract to insulate a building after a worker dropped a portable light onto the attic floor and installed insulation over the fixture, resulting in the fire. The jury then used the Indiana Comparative Fault Act to determine the contractor was 55 percent to blame and the building owner 45 percent. The building owner was awarded $154,144.65 of the total damages of $280,263.

In Lifeline Youth & Family Services v. Installed Building Products, Inc. d/b/a Momper Insulation, 02A03-1211-CT-502, Lifeline won the breach of contract ruling but appealed a trial court denial of its motion to correct error, arguing it should have been awarded the full amount of damages. Lifeline claims the jury erroneously applied comparative fault to its breach of contract claim.

“Momper argues that Lifeline has waived any challenge to the jury’s award of damages because Lifeline ‘did not object to the [damages] verdict before the jury was dismissed,’” Judge Rudy Pyle III wrote for the panel that also included judges Michael Barnes and James Kirsch.

“Lifeline responds to Momper’s argument by chastising Momper for stating that Lifeline did not object to the jury’s damages verdict without citing to the Transcript or Appendix. Nevertheless, Lifeline then does the same thing and asserts — without citation to the record — that it objected to the damages verdict ‘[u]pon completion of the trial’ and made an ‘oral motion’ asking the trial court to increase the damages award to $280,263.00,” Pyle wrote.

Failure to include the transcript in this case contravened Indiana Appellate Rule 9(F)(5), the panel noted.

“Our Indiana Supreme Court has addressed an appellant’s failure to include a transcript on appeal when factual issues are presented and held that ‘[a]lthough not fatal to the appeal, failure to include a transcript works a waiver of any specifications of error which depend upon the evidence,’” the panel ruled.

“Because Lifeline relies on the evidence presented during the jury trial in support of its argument challenging the amount of the jury’s damages verdict, we must conclude that Lifeline has waived any such damages argument and has failed to prove that the trial court abused its discretion by denying its motion to correct error,” Pyle wrote.



 
 

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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