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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. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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