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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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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