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Opinions July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Brenda Chaney v. Plainfield Healthcare Center
09-3661
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Reverses the District Court’s order of summary judgment in favor of Plainfield Healthcare Center. Finds that Plainfield’s racial preference policy for patients violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That policy, along with other incidents that occurred before Plainfield fired Chaney, contributed to a hostile work environment, and should be considered in determining whether Chaney was fired because of her race.

United States of America v. John Doe a/k/a Adaberto Guzman a/k/a Juaquin Tapia, Andres Cuellar-Chavez, and Enedeo Rodriguez Jr.
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. Judge Theresa L. Springmann
09-1658, 09-1756, 09-2242
Criminal. Affirms convictions of and sentences for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana following a jury trial. Appellants were conspirators in a drug distribution ring whose scheme was infiltrated by an undercover officer. During sentencing hearings, the District Court overruled each defendant’s sentencing objections and imposed a sentence on each defendant.

Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions before IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Jeffery H. McCabe, as Representative of the Estate of Jean Francis McCabe (deceased) v. Commissioner, Indiana Dept. of Insurance
49A02-0908-CV-728
Civil. Affirms trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance as administrator of the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund, in which the trial court found that attorney fees and expenses incurred by the attorney representing the personal representative of a wrongful death estate are not recoverable damages under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute.
 
Steven M. Rosenbaum v. State of Indiana
29A02-0911-CV-1097
Civil. Affirms trial court’s ruling Rosenbaum committed a Class A infraction even though he claimed he did not know the insurance had lapsed on the borrowed vehicle he was driving. According to Indiana Code Section 9-25-4-4, a person who knowingly operates a motor vehicle on a public highway, et al., commits a Class A infraction unless financial responsibility is in effect with respect to the motor vehicle.

John Thomas Pontius v. State of Indiana
29A04-1001-CR-24
Criminal. Affirms convictions of five counts of possession of child pornography, a Class D felony, for which Pontius received an aggregate sentence of three years in the Department of Correction, with 545 days executed and 550 days suspended to probation, following a bench trial. On appeal, Pontius claimed two of his convictions violated double jeopardy and that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

Michael J. Shepherd v. State of Indiana (NFP)

70A01-0911-CR-529
Criminal. Affirms trial court’s order resentencing Shepherd after he successfully pursued post-conviction relief.
 
Kayla Johnson v. Timothy J. Reinhardt (NFP)
92A03-0912-CV-586
Civil. Affirms trial court order for Johnson to pay a portion of Reinhardt’s attorney fees.
 
Daniel Brewington v. Melissa Brewington (NFP)
69A05-0909-CV-542
Civil. Affirms trial court’s judgment and final order on marriage dissolution decree, division of the marital estate, and award of sole custody of the parties’ two minor children to mother.
 
S.T.P. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A04-0912-JV-729
Juvenile. Affirms juvenile court’s reinstatement of jurisdiction over S.T.P. for the purpose of establishing restitution after adjudicating him as a delinquent child and entering a dispositional order awarding him to the Department of Correction.

Andrew Hirsty v. Kathy Hirsty (NFP)
02A03-1002-DR-55
Civil. Affirms trial court’s determination of the child support to be paid by Andrew Hirsty’s ex-wife Kathy Hirsty.
 
Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of K.S; B.S. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
82A01-1002-JT-76
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

Zachary McCloud v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A05-0911-CR-656
Criminal. Affirms convictions of an eight-year sentence for battery, a Class C felony, and resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.
 
Kevin Early v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-0912-CR-701
Criminal. Affirms conviction of resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.
 
Christopher W. Turner v. State of Indiana (NFP)
29A02-0905-CR-479
Criminal. Affirms sentence of eight years for five counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated following a guilty plea.
 
William Michael Lacy v. State of Indiana (NFP)
32A01-1002-CR-48
Criminal. Affirms conviction of strangulation; remands with instructions to vacate convictions of criminal confinement and battery.
 
Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of D.W. and T.W.; N.W. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, et al. (NFP)
49A02-0912-JV-1280
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.
 
Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of J.C.; M.C. v. Marion County Dept. of Child Services, et al. (NFP)
49A04-0912-JV-728
Juvenile. Reverses the involuntary termination of M.C.’s parental rights to her child, J.C., and remands with instructions.

Indiana Tax Court
Dekalb Co. Eastern Community School District v. Dept. of Local Government Finance
49T10-0906-TA-31
Tax. Reverses final determination of the Department of Local Government Finance. Given the actual language used in Indiana Code Section 6-1.1-18-12, the phrase “actual percentage increase” means increase only. If there is no increase, however, a zero value should be used in steps 2 and 4 of Indiana Code Section 6-1.1-18-12(e). Remands for further proceedings.
 

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  2. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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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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