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Opinions March 6, 2013

March 6, 2013
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
Kimberly Heaton v. State of Indiana
48S02-1206-CR-350
Criminal. Holds the statutorily mandated preponderance of the evidence standard is the correct legal standard to be applied in a probation revocation proceeding where the state claims that the probationer committed a new criminal offense while on probation. Vacates finding Heaton violated her probation and orders a new determination of whether she violated the conditions of her probation by a preponderance of the evidence pursuant to I.C. 35-38-2-3(e) (2008), and if so, what is the appropriate sanction for such violation.

Wednesday’s opinions
Indiana Supreme Court

Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc. v. Amco Insurance Company
33S01-1206-CT-312
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment for Amco Insurance Co. on its motion for declaratory judgment to enforce its reading of the insurance contract with the hotel disclaiming coverage for, and its duty to defend against, a civil complaint brought by a motel guest molested by an off-duty motel employee. The facts of the case reflect precisely the sort of scenario contemplated by the parties to be excluded from coverage when they agreed to the insurance contract. Chief Justice Dickson concurs and Justice Rucker dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Alva Electric, Inc., Arc Construction Co., Inc., Danco Construction, Inc., Deig Brothers Lumber & Construction Co., Inc., et al. v. Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., and EVSC Foundation, Inc.
http://media.ibj.com/Lawyer/websites/opinions/index.php?pdf=2013/march/03061301jsk.pdf
82A01-1201-PL-2
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment in favor of the school corporation and the foundation on the contractors’ suit for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, claiming the school corporation’s renovation of an administrative building should have been subject to the competitive bidding procedures required for a public work project under Indiana Code 36-1-12-4 and that the actions taken to accomplish the renovation constituted an antitrust violation under Indiana Code 24-1-2-3. The scheme used by the school corporation has not been authorized by the General Assembly and violates public bidding laws. Judge Friedlander dissents.

The First Baptist Church of Hammond v. Felipe Andrade, a minor, by his mother and custodial parent, Manuela Andrade (NFP)
45A05-1207-CT-354
Civil tort. Affirms jury verdict in favor of Felipe Andrade on his lawsuit after he was injured at an activity hosted by the church, the finding he was 45 percent at fault for his injuries, and reduction of his recovery accordingly.

Damion Martin v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1206-CR-473
Criminal. Affirms convictions of two counts of murder, one count of Class B felony aggravated battery, and three counts of Class C felony battery.

Brian Rinearson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

34A02-1209-CR-715
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license and sentence of 365 days incarceration, all suspended.

City of Muncie v. Stanley Benford (NFP)

18A02-1207-CR-549
Criminal. Affirms order setting aside an earlier order dismissing a forfeiture claim brought by the city against Stanley Benford.

Leonard Beaty v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A04-1107-CR-384
Criminal. Affirms three convictions of Class A felony child molesting.

In the Matter of: B.G., a Child in Need of Services; B.T. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
49A02-1208-JC-642
Juvenile. Affirms adjudication of B.G. as a child in need of services.

Calvin Horton v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A05-1207-CR-371
Criminal. Affirms revocation of placement in community corrections and order that Horton serve remainder of his sentence at the Department of Correction.

Christopher Groce and Tracey Groce v. American Family Insurance Company and Michael A. Meek (NFP)
48A02-1208-CT-703
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment for American Family and Meek after the Groces filed a complaint for damages against them alleging negligence and breach of contract.

The Indiana 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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  1. 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.

  2. 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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