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Misplaced court order not the same as undelivered, COA rules

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Reviewing an appeal arising from a misplaced court order, the Indiana Court of Appeals has made clear that relief under Indiana Trial Rule 72(E) requires evidence that counsel did not receive the court’s notice.

On Nov. 14, 2012, a Marion County court entered an order in favor of Veolia Water of Indianapolis. Christina Atkins’ counsel did receive a copy of the order but apparently misfiled it and did not learn of the judgment until counsel went to court two months later.  

Atkins filed a motion seeking relief from the judgment and leave to file a belated appeal under Trial Rule 72(E). After the trial court denied the motion, Atkins filed an appeal, asserting the lower court erred because the court clerk’s chronological case summary did not note service of the order.

The Court of Appeals ruled that relief under Trial Rule 72(E) is contingent upon not receiving a notice of court’s ruling, order or judgment. Lack of notice is the prerequisite and counsel must first establish either the notice was never mail or mailed to the wrong address.

It is undisputed that Atkins’ counsel received a copy of the order.

Consequently, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Atkins’ request to file a belated appeal in Christina Atkins, and Kyla Atkins, by her parents and next friend Christina Atkins v. Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC, 49A02-1302-CT-181.
 
While the COA acknowledged that no court has previously held that lack of notice is a prerequisite for relief under Trial Rule 72(E), it noted that statements by the Indiana Supreme Court supported its interpretation. Specifically, it referred to Markle v. Indiana State Teachers Ass’n, 514 N.E.2d 612, 614 (Ind. 1987) and Collins v. Covenant Mutual Insurance Co., 644 N.E.2d 116, 117-18 (Ind. 1994).

“A copy of the Order was mailed to the office of Atkins’s counsel,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote for the court. “It may well be true that her counsel never physically laid eyes on the Order and thus did not have actual knowledge of it. But her counsel’s mishandling of the Order does not negate the fact that notice was given. Because that notice was given, Atkins cannot now obtain relief under Rule 72(E). A contrary result would undermine the purpose of Rule 72(E).”
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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