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Opinions Dec. 13, 2012

December 13, 2012
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Wednesday.

Margaret Kosarko v. William A. Padula, Administrator of the Estate of Daniel L. Herndobler, Deceased
45S03-1206-CT-310
Civil tort. Reverses denial of motion for prejudgment interest following a jury verdict awarding Kosarko monetary damages. Holds the Tort Prejudgment Interest Statute abrogates and supplants the common law prejudgment interest rules in cases covered by the statute. Remands for a prejudgment interest determination consistent with this opinion.

Jacqueline Wisner, M.D. and The South Bend Clinic, L.L.P. v. Archie L. Laney
71S03-1201-CT-7
Civil tort. Affirms denial of defendants’ motion for a new trial and the decision to deny the discretionary award of prejudgment interest. The trial court determined that the conduct of counsel did not prevent the jury from rendering a fair and just verdict. The awarding of prejudgment interest is not mandatory and is left to the discretion of the trial court.

Hassan Alsheik v. Alice Guerrero, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of I.A., Deceased
45S04-1212-CT-675
Civil tort. Reverses decision to deny Guerrero prejudgment interest based upon a defective settlement letter as the letter did comply with Indiana Code 34-51-4-6. Remands with instructions to determine whether Guerrero should be entitled to prejudgment interest. Affirms the Court of Appeals opinions relating to the second autopsy, the expert witness and the admission of photographs.

Kathy Inman v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
41S01-1108-CT-515
Civil tort. Holds the Tort Prejudgment Interest Statute applies to underinsured motorist coverage disputes because they are properly considered “civil actions arising out of tortious conduct” as required by I.C. 34-51-4-1. Also holds that because prejudgment interest is a collateral litigation expense, it can be awarded in excess of an insured’s UIM policy limits. Affirms finding that Inman is not entitled to prejudgment interest because the trial court acted within its discretion when it denied her request for prejudgment interest.

Today’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Estate of Rudy Escobedo (deceased) (Raquel Hanic, Personal Representative of Estate) v. Officer Brian Martin, et al.
11-2426
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Judge Theresa L. Springmann.
Civil. Affirms jury verdict in favor of the defendants on the estate’s excessive force claim against the police and the city of Fort Wayne and grant of judgment as a matter of laws on qualified immunity grounds, as well as summary judgment in favor of officers Martin and Brown on the excessive force claim. Finds among other things, that the District Court did not improperly admit evidence unknown to the officers at the time they used force against Escobedo, that the court committed a harmless error when it prohibited the estate from introducing evidence at trial of Escobedo’s death for purposes of calculating damages, and the court did not err when it granted summary judgment in favor of officers Martin and Brown on the estate’s excessive force claim for shooting Escobedo.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Byram E. Dickes, Ruth E. Logar, Christopher S. Spiritoso, Gregory Spiritoso, Lindsey E. Dickes, Dickes Development Co., LLC, et al. v. Ronald D. Felger, and Shambaugh, Kast, Beck & Williams, LLP
02A03-1206-PL-302
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Felger and the law firm on the plaintiffs’ legal malpractice claim. The claim is barred by the statute of limitations.

Scott J. Lunsford v. State of Indiana (NFP)
34A02-1206-CR-501
Criminal. Reverses time the trial court calculated as the time remaining on Lunsford’s sentence at the time his probation was revoked and remands with instructions to resentence him to 673 days.

Uriah S. Swelfer v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A05-1205-CR-260
Criminal. Affirms sentence for two counts of Class C felony battery and one count of Class D felony criminal mischief.

Decarlos Connell v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A05-1203-CR-141
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B misdemeanor visiting a common nuisance.

Kerry Wagner and Wagner Trucking, Inc. v. Rugged Enterprises, LLC (NFP)
26A05-1206-CC-333
Civil collection. Affirms denial of relief from default judgment rendered in favor of Rugged Enterprises in its action against Wagner and Wagner Trucking for repayment of money mistakenly paid to Wagner Trucking by Rugged, which Wagner refused to refund.

Joseph Majors v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1205-CR-433
Criminal. Affirms convictions of attempted murder and carrying a handgun without a license. Reverses sentencing enhancement and orders it vacated, but affirms 45-year aggregate sentence imposed.

Roseann Kwak v. Kimberly Overmyer and Marshall-Starke Development Center, Inc., West Bend Mutual Ins. Company (NFP)
75A03-1203-CT-104
Civil tort. Affirms order denying Kwak’s motion to correct error from the trial court order granting summary judgment to West Bend Mutual, the garnishee-defendant, in proceedings supplement initiated by Kwak.

Daniel A. Sage v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A03-1206-PC-266
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief.

Tyler P. Hogue v. State of Indiana (NFP)
29A02-1203-CR-217
Criminal. Affirms sentence after Hogue admitted to violating his probation.

Jaconiah Fields v. State of Indiana (NFP)
89A01-1205-PC-232
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Melissa L. Freyberger v. Duane L. Freyberger (NFP)
71A03-1206-MI-252
Miscellaneous. Dismisses Melissa Freyberger’s appeal of the modification of Duane Freyberger’s parenting time rights, allowing him to take the children on a six-week vacation in Europe. Denies her request for appellate attorney fees.
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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