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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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