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Opinions Aug. 31, 2012

August 31, 2012
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Seabrook, Dieckmann & Naville, Inc. v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and Monica Hilbert
93A02-1202-EX-100
Agency action. Reverses board’s conclusion that Hilbert’s employment was not terminated for just cause. Based on the evidence and testimony, Seabrook Dieckmann & Naville showed that Hilbert breached a duty in connection with work which was reasonably owed to her employer and her conduct was of such a nature that a reasonable employee would understand that the conduct was a violation of a duty owed to the funeral home. Remands for further proceedings.

Patricia J. Barrow and Charlie Hanka v. City of Jeffersonville, Jeffersonville Planning and Zoning Dept., Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeal, Jeffersonville Building Comm., et al.
10A05-1112-PL-647
Civil plenary. Affirms conclusion that Chester Hicks, city director of planning and zoning, and Russell Segraves, city building commissioner, were public officers and the statute of limitations in I.C. 34-11-2-6 was applicable to this case. Concludes that the director and building commissioner were public officers because both held positions for which duties are prescribed by law to serve a public purpose. Reverses summary judgment for the defendants because the plaintiffs’ complaint was timely filed.

Wabash County Young Men's Christian Association, Inc. f/k/a Wabash Community Service v. Taylor M. Thompson, a minor, by next friends, Brian Thompson and Charlene Thompson
85A05-1203-CT-138
Civil tort. Reverses order denying the YMCA’s motion to dismiss a negligence complaint brought by a 17-year-old injured while playing softball from sliding into base. The release form signed by Taylor Thompson’s mother was valid, and the teen’s injury was derived from a risk inherent in the nature of playing softball.

Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: B.F. (Minor Child), and M.G. & S.F. (Father & Mother) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services
26A04-1202-JT-90
Juvenile. Reverses termination of parental rights. The trial court committed fundamental error in terminating the parents’ rights when the child was removed under a dispositional decree for less than six months.

Alice Lee v. State of Indiana
49A02-1112-CR-1090
Criminal. Affirms conviction of attendance at an animal fighting contest as a Class A misdemeanor. Indiana Code 34-46-3-10 is not unconstitutionally vague.

Roderick Vandrell Lewis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A03-1201-CR-18
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of felony murder.

Carroll S. Channell, Trustee of the Revocable Living Trust of Carroll S. Channell dated August 21, 2000, et al. v. Tim Moffatt and Bill Moffatt (NFP)
59A04-1112-PL-664
Civil plenary. Affirms pre-trial order resolving all pending motions in an action originally brought to quiet title to real estate located in Orange County. Remands for further proceedings.

Jeremy Lamar Lloyd v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A04-1202-CR-79
Criminal. Affirms sentences for two counts of Class C felony burglary.

Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of S.S., minor child, and D.S., mother, and W.S., father; D.S. and W.S. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
53A05-1112-JT-673
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

B.C. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
15A01-1202-JV-68
Juvenile. Vacates order B.C. register as a sex offender as the order was premature and remands with instructions.

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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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