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Opinions Dec. 13, 2011

December 13, 2011
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals had posted no Indiana opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Supreme Court

Steven Spangler and Heidi Brown v. Barbara Bechtel, Expectations Women's Health and
Childbearing Center, and St. Vincent Randolph Hospital

49S05-1012-CV-703
Civil. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Bechtel and the health and childbearing center. The parents’ separate actions seeking damages for emotional distress from experiencing the stillbirth of their child are not barred by the Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act or the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. Remands for further proceedings.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Richard M. Clokey v. Penny M. Bosley Clokey
84A01-1009-DR-450
Domestic relation. On rehearing, clarifies the issue of Richard Clokey’s ability to satisfy the maintenance obligation. Even though the trial court did not state so explicitly, the court considered his sources of income and his ability to pay the maintenance. Affirms original opinion in every respect.

Richard and Elizabeth Ryan v. Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. and Elaine E. English d/b/a Agri-Town Agency
56A03-1101-PL-75
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. and English. The right of first refusal here was personal and terminated upon the death of Mary Keen as the last surviving grantor of the right. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the Ryans’ right arose only if the Keens as the sellers offered the land for sale. Judge Baker concurs with separate opinion.

Robert E. Posey v. State of Indiana (NFP)
84A01-1103-CR-97
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony child molesting.

Donald Hurm v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A01-1101-CR-21
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of Class A felony child molesting and one count of Class C felony child molesting and remands with instructions to revise Hurm’s sentence. Judge Kirsch dissents in part.

The Huntington National Bank v. George P. Broadbent (NFP)
49A05-1012-CC-759
Civil collection. Reverses denial of Huntington’s motion for summary judgment and remands with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the bank and conduct a hearing to determine reasonable attorney fees.

Clifton J. Savage v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1104-CR-196
Criminal. Vacates Class D felony theft conviction and remands to the trial court to enter judgment accordingly. Affirms convictions of Class B felony burglary, Class C felony battery and Class A misdemeanor battery.

Nicholas Ryan v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1103-CR-230
Criminal. Reverses five convictions of Class B felony criminal confinement, but affirms five other convictions of Class B felony criminal confinement and eight Class B felony robbery convictions. Affirms sentence and remands to the trial court to amend its sentencing order and abstract of judgment.

M. Dale Palmer v. Kay Palmer (NFP)
32A01-1103-DR-108
Domestic relation. Affirms trial court’s property division in dissolution proceedings.

Edna Kelly v. Johnny Conway, d/b/a Conway Service (NFP)
49A02-1008-PL-1029
Civil plenary. Affirms judgment for Conway in suit alleging breach of contract.

Almaz M. Whyte v. Sam Christie (NFP)
45A05-1010-SC-749
Small claim. Affirms judgment in favor of Christie and against Whyte for $5,250 for the balance due on a verbal loan agreement made between the parties.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.
 

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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.

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