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Opinions June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Eric Grandberry v. Brian Smith, superintendent, Plainfield Correctional Facility
12-2081
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, Judge William T. Lawrence.
Civil. Reverses discipline and revocation of 30 days of Grandberry’s good-time credits for unauthorized use of an electronic device. Remands with instructions to issue a writ of habeas corpus restoring Grandberry’s good-time credits. Library staff asked him to use the computer to fill out forms that he was not supposed to complete as head inmate law clerk.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Lora Hoagland v. Franklin Township Community School Corporation
49A02-1301-PL-44
Civil plenary. Affirms in part and reverses in part. Affirm the trial court’s conclusion that Hoagland is not entitled to legal relief, as there is no right of action for monetary damages under the Indiana Constitution. Concludes that the Indiana Tort Claims Act does not apply to Hoagland’s state constitutional claim, and reverses the trial court on that ground. Also concludes that Franklin Township acted unconstitutionally by discontinuing student transportation to and from school and by later contracting with
CIESC to provide that transportation for a yearly fee, and Hoagland is entitled to declaratory judgment. Remands with instructions.

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company and K.B. Electric, LLC v. MacDougal Pierce Construction, Inc., Amerisure Insurance Company, et al.
06A01-1304-CT-162
Civil tort. Affirms trial court judgment in all respects. Concludes that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of Amerisure and MacDougall. The parties’ rights and liabilities to each other were outlined contractually by the terms of indemnification. Once that determination was made, then the insurance coverage issues could be resolved. Thus, the trial court’s decision on indemnification was not premature, but in fact, necessary to prevent the hazards of circular litigation. The subcontract explicitly referred to the prime contract and other documents, incorporating their terms into the subcontract. That K.B. Electric obtained umbrella coverage from West Bend further evinces the understanding that K.B. Electric was required to do just that.

Kevin M. Barber v. State of Indiana (NFP)
53A01-1310-CR-464
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to correct erroneous sentence.

Latoya C. Lee v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1310-CR-867
Criminal. Affirms conviction and sentence for Class B felony attempted aggravated battery but remands with instructions to correct error in the abstract of judgment.

Robert F. Petty v. State of Indiana (NFP)
72A05-1310-CR-538
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Michael A. Riley v. Oscar and Linda Sandlin (NFP)
32A01-1310-PL-453
Civil plenary. Affirms judgment in favor of the Sandlins on Riley’s action alleging conversion.

Ted Mueller, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A05-1305-CR-240
Criminal. Affirms convictions of murder and Class C felony conspiracy to commit robbery.

Dwayne Anderson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1309-CR-468
Criminal. Affirms conviction of possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor.

Brandon Kincheloe v. State of Indiana (NFP)
03A05-1312-CR-640
Criminal. Dismisses appeal filed after Kincheloe’s probation was revoked.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court posted no opinions by IL deadline.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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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