Opinions June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010
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The following opinion was posted Monday after IL deadline.
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Medical Assurance Co., Inc. v. Amy Hellman, et al.
U. S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Allen Sharp.
Civil. Medical Assurance appealed the District Court’s stay on the company’s declaratory judgment action. The company asked the court to declare that Dr. Mark Weinberger breached his contract obligations when he disappeared while on vacation and hasn’t been participating in his defense in more than 350 medical malpractice claims. As an insurer, it must show that the breach resulted in actual prejudice by showing that the outcome of the underlying case would have been altered by the insured’s cooperation. The District Court had noted it would be impossible for Medical Assurance to show actual prejudice without interfering with the state court processes, but the Circuit Court disagrees. The Circuit Court wrote that summary judgment is a good tool to examine not only whether Medical Assurance can succeed as a matter of law but also whether this case is a suitable candidate for declaratory relief by allowing the company to go forward with its challenge to its duty to defend. Vacates and remands the case for further proceedings.

Today’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

United States of America v. Vertran Wheaton
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Judge Theresa L. Springmann.
Criminal. Dismisses appeal of 36-month sentence for violating terms of supervised release. Wheaton admitted having violated the terms, and his counsel filed an Anders brief. The court notes Wheaton didn’t ask to withdraw his admissions but objects only to the sentence and not the revocation of supervised released based on his admissions. Using United States v. Knox, 287 F.3d 667, 670-72 (7th Cir. 2002), the court holds the challenge cannot stand. Grants counsel’s motion to withdraw.

Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of Mandate of Funds; St. Joseph County Commissioners and St. Joseph County Council v. The Hon. Peter J. Nemeth and the St. Joseph Probate Court
Civil. On automatic review pursuant to Trial Rule 60.5(B) and Appellate Rule 61, this is the first case utilizing the 2009 amended procedures of T.R. 60.5. Reverses the dismissal of Mandate 1 directing that the commissioners “shall not sell, assign, or otherwise transfer any interest in the land without the court’s consent” and remands it for trial. Affirms in part and reverses in part Mandate 2 about renovations to the Juvenile Justice Center and Mandate 3 regarding raises in salaries. Affirms the award of attorney fees and remands for a determination and award of the court’s appellate attorney fees. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Rucker concur with author Justice Sullivan. Justice Dickson concurs in part and dissents in part with a separate opinion, with which Justice Boehm concurs.
Indiana Court of Appeals
Adam Starr v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Reverses conviction of refusal to identify self, a Class C misdemeanor because Starr did not fall within the purview of the refusal to identify statute.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions and IL deadline.


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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise