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Opinions March 30, 2012

March 30, 2012
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals had posted no Indiana opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Kristine A. and Larry G. Dawson v. Fifth Third Bank
49A02-1107-PL-704
Civil plenary. Affirms order denying the Dawsons’ motion for summary judgment and granting Fifth Third Bank’s cross-motion for summary judgment on its claim for replevin. When Magish, who sold a motorcycle to the Dawsons, defaulted on his loan from Fifth Third, the bank as the secured party had the right to take possession of the motorcycle. The Dawsons’ interest in the motorcycle as its purchasers is not superior to the bank’s perfected security interest.   

D.C. v. J.A.C.
32A04-1106-DR-296
Domestic relation. Reverses order modifying custody in favor of the ex-husband and preventing mother from relocating with their minor child. Father is not entitled to appellate attorney fees, and relocation alone cannot be used as a reason to support custody modification.

Clark County Drainage Board and Clark County Board of Commissioners v. Robert Isgrigg
10A05-1102-PL-68
Civil plenary. Grants rehearing and affirms original opinion in all respects. Finds neither of Isgrigg’s assertions on rehearing are meritorious.

Carolyn Boss v. State of Indiana
49A05-1106-CR-320
Criminal. Remands with instructions to vacate Boss’ convictions and sentences for harboring a non-immunized dog as Class B misdemeanors and enter a determination that she committed harboring a non-immunized dog as Class C infractions. Affirms convictions of six counts of Class A misdemeanor failure to restrain a dog and sentence.

Steinrock Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc. v. James S. McCulloch, PNC Bank, N.A.
22A05-1108-CC-457
Civil collection. Affirms the trial court’s determination that Steinrock Roofing breached the contract and affirms award of damages to McCulloch in a dispute over payment for work completed. Substantial evidence was presented establishing the contractor’s work was deficient. The trial court properly concluded that the contractor had waived any claim to reduce the damage under the Home Improvement Warranties statute.

Lewis J. Richardson and Laurel Richardson v. Board of Commissioners of Owen County
60A01-1106-PL-228
Civil plenary. Affirms finding that the Richardsons lacked standing as an aggrieved party to remonstrate against the vacation of a roadway leading to a cemetery. The Richardsons are not abutting landowners to the vacated roadway and have failed to demonstrate that they have sustained an injury that is unique or special to them.

Imperial Insurance Restoration & Remodeling, Inc. v. James Costello
10A05-1109-SC-478
Small claim. Reverses order granting judgment in favor of Costello on Imperial Insurance’s claims for breach of contract. Although Imperial provided a contract to Costello that it concedes did not satisfy requirements of the Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act, that non-compliance did not automatically render the contract void. Concludes that the contract is enforceable and should not be voided. Remands with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Imperial for $669.86 and to hold a hearing to determine contractual interest due and if attorney fees or other costs are warranted.

Bilsland, LLC, LPM Investments, LLC, Phillip D. Mervis, Louis Mervis, Henry Bilsland, Justin Bilsland, and Biosafe Engineering, LLC v. Bradley D. Crain and Richard J. Redpath (NFP)
32A01-1106-PL-266
Civil plenary. Affirms grant of an Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(8) motion by Crain and Redpath to dismiss the appellants’ claim.

Delmar J. Kent v. State of Indiana (NFP)
39A01-1105-CR-234
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for two counts of Class A felony child molesting and one count of Class C felony child molesting.

In Re the Paternity of: B.H. by next friend: B.C. (Father) v. D.H. (Mother) (NFP)
49A04-1106-JP-311
Juvenile. Affirms denial of father’s requests to place B.H. in a different school district and to grant him joint physical and/or legal custody.

Andrew Abbott v. State of Indiana (NFP)
33A04-1109-CR-545
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to Class A misdemeanor trespass.

State of Indiana, Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission v. Gary Murphy and Lake County Treasurer (NFP)
45A03-1106-PL-261
Civil plenary. Affirms jury verdict of $332,172 in damages to Murphy and the Lake County Treasurer for multiple easements placed on Murphy’s property by the development commission.

J.R.T. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A03-1110-JV-477
Juvenile. Affirms commitment to the Department of Correction.

Vicky L. Tisdial v. State of Indiana (NFP)
29A05-1011-CR-728
Criminal. Reverses denial of petition requesting expungement of arrest record.

Derrick L. Myers v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1106-CR-508
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation.

Aaron Isby v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-1107-CR-774
Criminal. Affirms denial of Isby’s motions to compel his original trial counsel to produce all documents relating to his 1992 trial and for copies of his preliminary hearing transcript and the transcripts of three depositions taken leading up to his 1992 trial.

Gerald McKinney v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A04-1108-CR-450
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Rondell Boyd v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1108-CR-725
Criminal. Affirms three convictions of Class C felony child molesting.

K.J. v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and T.N.V.A.H. (NFP)
93A02-1106-EX-634
Agency appeal. Affirms denial of unemployment benefits.

DeCarlos J. Freeman v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A04-1111-CR-619
Criminal. Affirms convictions of resisting law enforcement – one as a Class D felony and one as a Class A misdemeanor – following a guilty plea.
 

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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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