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Man must reinstate original complaints for lawsuits to proceed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday that a man with a propensity to sue over purchases made online may not file a new lawsuit in Marion County after a similar one was dismissed without prejudice.

Gersh Zavodnik filed 27 lawsuits against people living in five states and 10 countries from 2008 through 2010 in an attempt to “make his living by filing lawsuits … against individuals he alleges caused him damages by failing to complete Internet sales purchases,” according to the court opinion. Two of those defendants were Giselle Guzman and Brian Richards.

The 27 lawsuits were consolidated by Judge Timothy Oakes in Marion Superior Court; 24 of the lawsuits were dismissed without prejudice, including those against Guzman and Richards. About a year later, he filed new lawsuits against Guzman and Richards and added Steve Panayiotou as a co-defendant. The allegations in the new complaints were the same as those originally dismissed. Judge David Dreyer dismissed the lawsuits and denied motions to correct error.

In Gersh Zavodnik v. Brian Richards and Njgolfman.com a/k/a Savva's Golf Enterprises a/k/a ProGolfJerseyCity@yahoo.com and, Steve Panayiotov a/k/a Steve Panayiotou a/k/a Savva Panayiotou, 49A02-1209-CC-750, the Court of Appeals affirmed, citing Thacker v. Barlett, 785 N.E.2d 621 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003). That case was similar and dealt with a dismissal under Trial Rule 12(B)(6) for failing to state a cause of action.

“Much like Trial Rule 12(B), we conclude that when a trial court has involuntarily dismissed a case without prejudice pursuant to Trial Rule 41(E), subsection (F) of that rule ascribes to the dismissing trial court the discretion to consider whether a complaint should be reinstated,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote. “We also presume that the Indiana Supreme Court, in drafting Trial Rule 41, did not intend to place a nullity in the rule by adding subsection (F)’s explicit procedure for how to go about reinstatement of a complaint dismissed without prejudice. Zavodnik’s position, that such complaints can be re-filed in a different court without following the reinstatement procedure, would render that provision meaningless.

“By re-filing complaints before Judge Dreyer that were substantially similar, if not identical, to complaints that Judge Oakes had already dismissed, Zavodnik was improperly attempting to circumvent Judge Oakes’s authority and discretion to decide whether Zavodnik had good cause to reinstate his original complaint(s). Judge Dreyer apparently recognized this and acted properly in dismissing the re-filed complaints, which dismissal served the interests of fairness to litigants, judicial comity, and judicial efficiency.”

Zavodnik must obtain reinstatement of his original complaints before Oakes if he wants to pursue his legal action against the parties.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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