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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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