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Opinions Aug. 31, 2010

August 31, 2010
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The following opinion was posted after IL deadline Monday.
Indiana Supreme Court
Anne W. Murphy, et al. v. Jannis Fisher, et al.
49S02-1008-CV-463
Civil. Summarily affirms the Indiana Court of Appeals holding that the Medicaid transportation services providers do not have a private right to sue the state for cutting the transportation reimbursement rates. Concludes the state invited any court error with respect to the right of Medicaid recipients to sue for relief and it will be held to its concession that recipients have a private right of action in this case. Remands with instructions to allow the recipients to present evidence establishing the transportation to which they may be entitled by Section 30(A), that they have been or will be denied the services to which they are entitled, and what relief they are due. Justice Sullivan did not participate.

Today's opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Hayes Lemmerz International, Inc. v. ACE American Insurance Co.
10-1073
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Chief Judge Philip P. Simon.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of diversity suit against insurer. ACE had no duty to provide Hayes Lemmerz International’s lawyers with legal advice and didn’t breach its duty to defend by failing to advise HLI that its law firm wasn’t defending the suit properly.

Daniel J. Wickens and Pamela Wickens, and Mark E. Shere v. Shell Oil Co. and Shell Oil Products Co., LLC
09-2737 and 09-2620
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Reverses District Court’s ruling regarding calculation, deducting Colleen Shere’s fees from Mark Shere’s attorneys’ fees award in case involving corrective action costs. Remands for further proceedings, and affirms remainder of the District Court’s judgment.

Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Timothy Hamby, et al. v. Board of Zoning Appeals, et al.
87A04-0912-CV-700
Civil. Affirms trial court’s denial for declaratory relief for Hamby and other homeowners. The Board of Zoning Appeals and Area Plan Commission of Warrick County had approved a variance to allow a permit to be issued to another homeowner for a wind turbine exceeding the maximum height requirement in a multiple family zoning district; however the trial court’s reversal of the BZA’s decision to grant the variance is not being appealed.

James R. Meier, et al. v. Homeowners of Mallard's Landing, Inc. (NFP)
64A05-1001-CP-25
Civil. Finds the trial court erred in granting the homeowners’ association’s summary judgment without first determining the validity of the association’s formation. After the trial court makes it determination, it can then decide whether certain damages are appropriate regarding Meier’s lots.

James Wright, et al. v. Camaro Costello, et al. (NFP)
49A05-1002-CT-160
Civil. Affirms trial court’s ruling transferring case to Vanderburgh County because the business property he tried to purchase is located there, making the county a preferred venue.

Donald Fisher v. Tower Bank and Trust Co. (NFP)
02A05-1002-MF-97
Civil. Reaffirms and clarifies its decision that the trial court properly granted summary judgment. Fisher notes the appeals court cited evidence not properly designated to the trial court for summary judgment purposes. The appeals court acknowledges it referenced an appraisal report not property designated for summary judgment purposes but the information garnered from the report is contained within materials that were properly designated for such purposes.

Lori A. Deardorff (Tilden) v. Kevin L. Deardorff (NFP)
43A03-0912-CV-560
Civil. Because the appeals court is unable to address any of Lori’s allegations of error, it affirms the trial court’s order to reduce Kevin’s child support obligation. Lori, pro se, did not cite evidence or explain application in the record supporting her claims.

Dennis and Lisa Morrow v. Walter and Lois Kucharski (NFP)
45A03-0911-CV-509
Civil. Affirms $45,025.56 judgment in favor of the Kucharskis involving a private nuisance claim. Denies the Kucharskis’ request for appellate attorney’s fees.

James T. Parado v. Maria J. Parado (Mast) (NFP)
34A02-1002-DR-282
Civil. Affirms denial of James’ petition to modify custody and granting Maria’s petition to modify custody.

Max Jacobus, et al. v. Peggy L. Proffitt (NFP)
36A01-0912-CV-565
Civil. Reverses judgment and remands for trial court to establish an easement of necessity entirely on Proffitt’s property which complies with the applicable ordinance regarding the proper width of easements.

W.G. v. Review Board (NFP)
93A02-1004-EX-389
Civil. Rules the Review Board properly affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision dismissing W.G.’s appeal as untimely.

Pioneer Auto Truck Sales, Inc. v. Dolores Burch (NFP)
93A02-1002-EX-207
Civil. Affirms Worker’s Compensation Board’s award of benefits to Burch because medical report met statutory requirements.

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of L.R.; A.W. v. IDCS (NFP)
32A01-1002-JT-53
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

J.L. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-0912-JV-1184
Juvenile. Affirms J.L.’s adjudication as a delinquent child for committing what would be Class D felony resisting law enforcement, Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license, and Class A misdemeanor dangerous possession of a firearm if committed by an adult.

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of A.O.S.; A.M. Jr. v. I.D.C.S. (NFP)
20A03-0911-JV-539
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

F.D. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1003-JV-199
Juvenile. Affirms modification of F.D.’s placement and commitment to the Indiana Department of Correction.

John Ray Henry v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A03-0911-CR-513
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class A felony child molesting and Class C felony child molesting.

Timothy William Woolum, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-0912-CR-1231
Criminal. Affirms probation revocation and order that Woolum serve the portion of sentence that previously had been suspended to probation.

Christopher Ostack v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1001-CR-28
Criminal. Affirms 30-year sentence and rules the state presented sufficient evidence to rebut his self-defense claim.

William J. VanHorn v. State of Indiana (NFP)
18A02-1002-PC-122
Criminal. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his conviction following his guilty plea to burglary.

Brandon L. Lewis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-0910-CR-576
Criminal. Remands with instructions to vacate Smith’s conviction of and sentence for criminal confinement as a Class B felony, to impose conviction of and an appropriate sentence for criminal confinement as a Class D felony, and to conduct a hearing to determine an appropriate amount of restitution. Affirms in all other respects.

Emily Meyer v. State of Indiana (NFP)
35A02-1001-CR-69
Criminal. Affirms conviction of two counts of Class A felony dealing in a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance.

Grante Fricklin v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1001-CR-22
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia.

Charles E. Hubbard v. State of Indiana (NFP)
89A01-1002-CR-151
Criminal. Rules the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Hubbard and that his 135-year sentence is not inappropriate.  

James R. Cook v. State of Indiana (NFP)
34A04-1004-CR-307
Criminal. Rules the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences totaling six years for two Class D felony counts of battery resulting in bodily injury to a person under fourteen years of age that were one episode of criminal conduct; reverses and remands for resentencing consistent with this opinion.

Justin Sparks v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-0911-CR-1105
Criminal. Rules trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Sparks to serve the one year that remained on his sentence for battery after his probation revocation.

Finnegan J. Coley v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1001-CR-43
Criminal. Reverses and remands for the trial court to enter the advisory sentence of 1 1/2 years on the Class D felony conviction for possession of cocaine, to be served concurrent with Coley’s 16-year sentence on the Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. The State concedes the error that the same evidence of his being found in possession of a handgun was used to convict him for possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and to enhance the cocaine conviction to a Class C felony, which is in contravention of Indiana’s prohibition against double jeopardy.

Timothy Treacy v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-0911-CR-647
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation.

Stevie W. Davis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A03-0908-CR-392
Criminal. Affirms denial of petition for permission to file a belated notice of appeal.

Kevin H. Griffith v. State of Indiana (NFP)
91A02-1003-CR-414
Criminal. Rules state presented sufficient evidence to rebut his claim of self-defense.

Ovidio Rosario v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1001-CR-17
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

Indiana Tax Court
Dora Brown, Ben Kindle, and Sonjia Graf v. Dept. of Local Government Finance (NFP)
49T10-0909-TA-52
Tax. Affirms in part and reverses in part the Department of Local Government Finance’s approval of the Gregg Township Board’s loan resolution for the 2009 tax year. Remands for the Department of Local Government Finance to determine what portion of the loan amount accurately reflects the fire department’s provision of ambulance service to Gregg Township in Morgan County.

Indiana Supreme Court granted 1 transfer and denied transfer to 22 cases for the week ending Aug. 27.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

  4. For some strange reason this story, like many on this ezine that question the powerful, seems to have been released in two formats. Prior format here: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/nominees-selected-for-us-attorney-in-indiana/PARAMS/article/44263 That observed, I must note that it is quite refreshing that denizens of the great unwashed (like me) can be allowed to openly question powerful elitists at ICE MILLER who are on the public dole like Selby. Kudos to those at this ezine who understand that they cannot be mere lapdogs to the powerful and corrupt, lest freedom bleed out. If you wonder why the Senator resisted Selby, consider reading the comments here for a theory: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/nominees-selected-for-us-attorney-in-indiana/PARAMS/article/44263

  5. Why is it a crisis that people want to protect their rights themselves? The courts have a huge bias against people appearing on their own behalf and these judges and lawyers will face their maker one day and answer for their actions.

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