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Opinions March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014
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Indiana Court of Appeals
Joseph and M. Carmen Wysocki v. Barbara A. and William T. Johnson, both individually and as Trustees of the Barbara A. Johnson Living Trust
45A03-1309-CT-385
Civil tort. Affirms denial of the Wysockis’ request for attorney fees and additional damages under the Indiana Crime Victims Relief Act. The Wysockis were not victims of the criminal offense of fraud because the Johnsons were not charged with that crime in relation to the sale of the house, much less convicted of it in a court of law. In the absence of such a conviction, the CVRA does not apply.

CBR Event Decorators, Inc., Gregory Rankin, Robert Cochrane and John Bales v. Todd M. Gates
49A02-1302-CT-159
Civil tort. Affirms in part and reverses in part. Concludes shareholders Rankin, Cochrane and Bales are not personally liable for the attorney fees on the wrongful stop payment claim as this claim was only pled against CBR. The ex parte order requiring deposit of $1 million with the trial court clerk was not reversible error.

Shearece M. Love v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A04-1308-CR-400
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony robbery.

In Re the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of D.D. and J.D.: D.H. (Mother) and J.P.D. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

18A02-1307-JT-657
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

Suzanne Throgmartin v. Wilson S. Stober and Christopher E. Clark (NFP)
49A02-1307-CT-656
Civil tort. Reverses order granting Stober’s and Clark’s motion for summary judgment and denial of Throgmartin’s motion to correct error pertaining to the summary judgment entered on her legal malpractice claim.

Cornell Johnson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1308-CR-321
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance and Class B felony dealing in cocaine.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of A.C., Minor Child, and his Father, M.C., M.C. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

49A02-1308-JT-671
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

Timothy J. Tkachik v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A05-1308-CR-417
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to two counts of Class A felony neglect of a dependent.

Dawn Jackson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
29A02-1308-CR-711
Criminal. Affirms convictions of 11 counts of Class D felony counterfeiting.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court posted no opinions by IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana decisions 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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