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Opinions June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Wednesday:
Steven Siwinski, et al. v. Town of Ogden Dunes
64S03-1010-CV-599
Civil. Affirms trial court ruling in favor of the town in its suit against the Siwinskis for violating a town ordinance by renting their home. The ordinance is not ambiguous and the Siwinskis impermissibly rented their dwelling in violation of the ordinance. The fine for this violation should not exceed $32,500. Justice Rucker concurs in a separate opinion. Justice Sullivan dissents, believing the Court of Appeals’ analysis was correct.

Donald A. Pierce v. State of Indiana
13S04-1101-CR-7
Criminal. Revises Pierce’s 124-year sentence for three counts of Class A felony child molesting and one count of Class C felony child molesting to 80 years based on the nature of the offense and Pierce’s character. On remand, the trial court may determine whether and to what extent any portion of the sentence should be suspended to probation. Justices David and Dickson dissent.

Hematology-Oncology of Ind., P.C. v. Hadley W. Fruits, et al.
49S05-1106-CV-387
Civil. Affirms judgment awarding attorney fees and litigation expenses brought under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. Those fees and expenses are recoverable under the statute but remands to limit the provider’s aggregate liability to the $250,000 cap prescribed by the Medical Malpractice Act. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Rucker dissent.

Jeffery H. McCabe v. Commissioner, Indiana Dept. of Insurance
49S02-1010-CV-602
Civil. Reverses partial summary judgment for the Department of Insurance on the issue of whether attorney fees are recoverable under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. Holds that attorney fees are recoverable under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. Considering the General Wrongful Death Statute and the Adult Wrongful Death Statute in pari materia and warranting harmonious interpretation, finds that the phrase "may include but are not limited to" in the AWDS includes the availability of attorney fees and all other elements of damages permitted under the GWDS. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Rucker dissent.

Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund v. Beverly S. Brown
49S02-1106-CT-388
Civil. Affirms that sums for the expenses of administration, contingent attorney fees and loss of services are recoverable under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. Agrees with COA decision that attorney fees, probate administration costs, and litigation costs are compensatory damages that remedy actual pecuniary losses so there’s no reason why these damages shouldn’t be allowed. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Rucker dissent.

Today’s opinions
Indiana Supreme Court
Arturo Garcia-Torres v. State of Indiana
64S03-0912-CR-550
Criminal. Affirms convictions of rape, attempted rape, and two counts of burglary. Garcia-Torres’ consent to the swab of his cheek for DNA was voluntary so the swab was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Declines to find Pirtle applies. Justice Rucker dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Enhanced Network Solutions, Inc. v. Hypersonic Technologies
02A03-1011-PL-609
Civil plenary. Affirms order granting Hypersonic Technologies’ request for declaratory judgment that Hypersonic did not violate the terms of the subcontractor agreement. The trial court did not err in finding that Hypersonic did not solicit or induce an employee of Enhanced Network Solutions to terminate his employment in violation of the terms of the subcontractor agreement entered into between Hypersonic and ENS.

Coldwell Banker v. Laub Brothers Oil Co., Inc., et al.
02A05-1003-PL-134
Civil plenary. Affirms denial of Laub Brothers' motion for summary judgment as there is no issue of material fact with respect to whether Coldwell engaged in negotiations with S&S Oil. Affirms denial of judgment on the evidence as Coldwell presented evidence that disputed Laub Brothers' contention that it did not negotiate with S&S Oil. Affirms trial court didn’t err by ruling on its own motion to correct error on the basis that it did not timely file its own motion to correct error. Holds that a new trial on Coldwell’s suit that Laub Brothers wrongfully refused to pay Coldwell a commission is warranted.

David L. Gibbs v. State of Indiana
49A02-1010-CR-1074
Criminal. Reverses conviction of Class B felony arson and remands for a new trial. The trial court erred in failing to appoint a psychiatrist to examine Biggs months after his competency hearing, but it was a harmless error because the trial court did not declare him competent to stand trial as a result of the error. The state’s amendment to Gibbs’ charging information was substantive and the trial court erred in allowing the state to amend the charging information after it had read the original charges to the jury.

Edwin Blinn, Jr. v. Rick Kammen and The Law Firm of Gilroy Kammen & Hill (NFP)
27A04-1008-PL-532
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment for Kammen in Blinn’s suit for professional negligence.

Michael Carlton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1012-CR-1344
Criminal. Affirms sentence for Class D felony escape.

Quanardel Wells v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1008-CR-950
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony intimidation. Affirms imposition of the $250 Sexual Assault Victims Assistance fee, vacates the $100 supplemental public defender fee and remands with instructions that the court hold a hearing on Wells’ ability to pay.

Tina Whiting v. State of Indiana (NFP)
38A05-1008-CR-505
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for felony murder.

Shawn D. Downs v. State of Indiana (NFP)
09A02-1011-CR-1246
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to Class C felony nonsupport of a dependent child.

Justin R. Leed v. Melissa A. Leed (NFP)
50A03-1011-DR-593
Domestic relation. Affirms order modifying the marriage settlement agreement.

Mark May v. Ashley F. Ward, Inc. (NFP)
93A02-1011-EX-1323
Agency appeal. Reverses decision by the Full Worker’s Compensation Board denying May’s claim for benefits. Remands for further proceedings.

Jamison A. Brucker v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A04-1011-CR-781
Criminal. Affirms sentence for Class D felony fraud.

Llewellyn Richardson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A05-1012-CR-820
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felony residential entry and Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy.

Donna J. Layton v. City of Lebanon (NFP)
06A04-1008-PL-597
Civil plenary. Affirms denial of motion to correct error after jury awarded Layton $133 in her lawsuit against the city after sewage invaded her residence and crawl-space.

Peter Frericks v. State of Indiana (NFP)
43A03-1008-CR-412
Criminal. Dismisses appeal of revocation of probation.

James L. Whitfield v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1008-CR-938
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

Byron G. Lewis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
46A03-1004-CR-200
Criminal. Affirms convictions of and sentence for three counts of Class A felony dealing in cocaine. Remands for correction to the abstract of judgment.

Hector R. Castillo v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1009-CR-1020
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine.

Jarrod W. Fair v. State of Indiana (NFP)
30A01-1012-CR-685
Criminal. Vacates possession of cocaine and marijuana convictions and sentences and affirms convictions of and sentences for dealing in cocaine and dealing in marijuana.

Rodney L. Williams v. Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, et al. (NFP)
77A04-1006-MI-403
Miscellaneous. Dismisses challenge to the ruling on Williams' wife’s motion to intervene. Affirms the trial court was not required to order an appraisal of Williams’ property prior to forfeiture.

Gerry S. Hicks v. Rachel M. (Hicks) Villareal (NFP)
43A03-1102-DR-78
Domestic relation. Affirms order granting Villareal’s motion to modify child support.

Trisha Dawn Hudson v. Jeffrey Michael Hudson (NFP)
82A01-1009-DR-545
Domestic relation. Affirms modification of custody in favor of the father but reverses order directing mother’s parenting time with the children be supervised.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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