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NIPSCO loses appeal of reinstatement of driving privileges

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The Northern Indiana Public Service Company was unable to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that a lower court erred when it reinstated the driving privileges of two people who had been involved in car accidents that damaged NIPSCO’s property.

Edward Sloan and Dashawn Cole had their driving privileges suspended because of failure to satisfy judgments entered in favor of NIPSCO due to the damage of the company’s property. Both men sought hearings on the matter, at which NIPSCO objected to reinstatement. The trial court, in separate hearings, ordered the men to comply with all of the provisions of I.C. 9-25-6-6, including providing proof of financial responsibility for the next three years to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the trial court, and NIPSCO; and to pay $50 a month until the judgment was paid in full.

NIPSCO appealed, and the cases were consolidated on its motion in Northen Indiana Public Service Company v. Edward A. Sloan, Dashawn L. Cole, 45A03-1307-SC-254.

One of NIPSCO’s arguments was that because driving privileges may not be suspended for more than seven years under I.C. 9-25-6-4, the installment payments must ensure that the judgment is paid off by that seven-year limit. But I.C. 9-25-6-6 is clear and unambiguous and its plain language does not include such a time limit on installment payments, Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

NIPSCO asserted that Cole and Sloan were required to prove to the trial court at the reinstatement hearing that they would maintain financial responsibility for at least three years. NIPSCO, however, cited no legal authority that proof of financial responsibility was to be submitted to the trial court at the hearing, Barnes pointed out.

The company also claimed that the men failed to file proposed plans at least five days prior to the hearing, as required under I.C. 9-35-6-6(b). The men each filed letters with the trial court indicating their desire to set up a payment plan, and these letters were forwarded to NIPSCO’s attorney at least five days before the hearing. The statute does not require a detailed installment plan be submitted by the judgment debtor prior to the hearing, the COA held.

The appellate judges ruled that the trial court property rejected NIPSCO’s equity arguments. Because it is more likely to get paid if Cole’s and Sloan’s driving privileges are reinstated, substantial justice is accomplished by following the law, Barnes wrote.

The judges also found that NIPSCO waived its argument regarding the trial court’s contacting the BMV by failing to object to that procedure during the hearing.  


 

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  • Really NIPSCO?
    How do you suppose they pay $50 a month if they can't drive to work? It cost you more than that to hire lawyers just to bully two people.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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