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Opinions July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads v. United States Army Corps of Engineers and Indiana Department of Transportation
12-3187
Civil/agency action. Affirms the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Corps of Engineers, holding that the Corps evaluated all of the wetland-protection factors required in its approval of a Clean Water Act permit to construct a section of Interstate 69 about 25 miles south of Bloomington.  

Indiana Court of Appeals
Steven Weinreb v. Fannie Mae
49A04-1211-PL-587
Civil plenary. Affirms partial summary judgment to Fannie Mae for $1.81 million. Weinreb, a real estate investor who was held liable for the amount, appealed the summary judgment on the grounds that the implementation of the loan documents was ambiguous; the prepayment premium is unenforceable; and the guaranty along with the loan documents are unenforceable because of unconscionability. The COA finds no ambiguity in either the language or implementation of the documents. It also concludes the prepayment premium is enforceable as a matter of law because it fairly compensates Fannie Mae for lost interest. Finally, the court rules Weinreb was not in a position of weakness or unequal bargaining power when negotiating the loan so the guaranty and the loan documents are not unconscionable.   

Marshall Banter v. Joshua Sheets
34A05-1212-CT-629
Civil tort. Reverses and remands for a new trial in a claim arising from an automobile crash. The panel held that a jury that assigned 70 percent fault to Marshall Banter, a motorist rear-ended in an auto accident, was given incorrect instructions and misapplied the Indiana Comparative Fault Act. The panel further held that Joshua Sheets conceded liability and therefore the jury at a new trial shall only determine Banter’s damages.

The Cain Family Farm, L.P., and The Cain Family Farm, LLC, v. Schrader Real Estate & Auction Company, Inc., Charles O. Drerup, Antlers Ridge, LLC, and Candace J. Somerlott

57A03-1209-PL-394
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court ruling validating the purchase agreements on property sold at auction, agreeing with trial court rulings that there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding Candace Somerlot’s apparent authority to bind the LLC when she executed purchase agreements, and that the trial court correctly interpreted the Indiana Business Flexibility Act, I.C. 23-18-3-1.1(b).

William Chavers v. State of Indiana

49A04-1211-CR-580
Criminal. Affirms conviction for Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy. Finds that Chavers failed to show he made an honest and reasonable mistake of fact that would have negated his culpability for violating a no-contact order. Concludes a “reasonable person” would have attempted to verify that both protective orders issued from Marion Superior Court 21 and Court 16 had been vacated before going to the victim’s residence. However, in his dissent, Judge John Baker argues the confusion over the two separate orders could have caused “an average person” to easily make a mistake regarding the status of the protective orders.

Jeramie Murdock v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-1210-CR-880
Criminal. Affirms 20-year executed sentence and convictions of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class D felony possession of methamphetamine and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance.

Jeffrey Nemcek v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A04-1210-CR-549
Criminal.  Affirms conviction of Class C felony reckless homicide and Class B misdemeanor possession of a switchblade knife.

Scott Banfield v. State of Indiana (NFP)

02A04-1210-IF-536
Infraction. Affirms bench trial verdict against Scott Banfield and fine of $35.50 plus court costs for a speeding ticket.

Oscar Guillen, Sr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
56A03-1204-CR-157
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of Class D felony intimidation and adjudication as a habitual offender.

Patrick Wiese v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1207-CR-595
Criminal/rehearing. Reaffirms trial court denial of a motion to suppress evidence from a home search.

Eric M. Kyner v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1301-PC-124
Post-conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief from his designation as a sexually violent predator and placement on parole, which was revoked after a violation.

Christopher McCaster v. State of Indiana (NFP)

79A04-1212-CR-644
Criminal. Affirms habitual-offender sentence enhancement to a conviction of Class A felony conspiracy to deal in cocaine or a narcotic drug.

Romell Colvin v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A01-1212-CR-576
Criminal. Affirms Class D felony conviction of dealing in marijuana.

Nicholas Joseph Bray v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A05-1210-CR-548
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to withdraw guilty plea to two counts of Class C felony child molesting.

Barbara Laskowski v. Amer Kazi, M.D. (NFP)
20A03-1205-PL-235
Civil plenary/medical malpractice. A majority of Judge Rudolph Pyle III and Chief Judge Margret Robb affirms summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Judge Melissa May dissents.

Jim A. Edsall v. Benson, Pantello, Morris, James & Logan (NFP)
02A05-1210-SC-508
Small claims. Affirms judgment against Jim Edsall for $981.31 in unpaid legal fees.

Kenneth Horton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1212-CR-1036
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation on the suspended portion of a sentence for Class B felony rape.

Delford W. Jones v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A03-1209-CR-401
Criminal. Reverses convictions of Class C felony child molesting and Class D felony sexual battery and remands to the trial court to enter a conviction of Class B misdemeanor battery and resentence Jones accordingly.

Susan Berg v. Wanda Peters Rice a/k/a Wanda Coleman (NFP)
40A04-1210-SC-530
Small claims. Affirms judgment in favor of Wanda Peters Rice a/k/a Wanda Coleman in a land contract dispute.

Melvin Lee Hayes v. State of Indiana (NFP)
03A05-1212-CR-630
Criminal. Remands to the trial court to recalculate credit for time served on convictions of Class D felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine and theft.

Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Tax Court issued no opinions by IL deadline Tuesday.


 
 

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  4. 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.

  5. 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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