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Opinions Nov. 10, 2010

November 10, 2010
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Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Scott D. Wells v. Herman Bud Bernitt, et al.
53A01-0910-CV-494
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the Bernitts on Wells’ claim against them for defamation because there was no admissible evidence before the court to establish actual malice, an element of defamation. Affirms summary judgment in favor of J.D. Maxwell and Travis Coryea as to Wells’ claim for negligent and intentional torts finding the evidence establishes the officers didn’t use excessive force. Affirms summary judgment for Wells on the Bernitts’ cross appeal alleging abuse of process.

Robert J. Blanford v. Judy D. Blanford
65A01-1004-DR-181
Domestic relation. The trial court erred in calculating Robert’s child support obligations on two worksheets and treating each son as an only child without an explanation of its reasons. Affirms determination and allocation of extraordinary educational expenses as part of Robert’s support obligations related to college education. Reverses assigning funds in his 401(k) to his children rather than Robert and Judy upon S.B.’s completion of a bachelor’s degree because this assignment was a post-dissolution modification of the division of marital assets. Remands with instructions.

Kevin Barton v. State of Indiana
18A04-0910-CR-609
Criminal. Affirms Class C felony conviction of failure to return to the scene of an accident resulting in death. The trial court didn’t err when it denied Barton’s motion to dismiss, which asserted that the state was barred under collateral estoppel principles from prosecuting him, because he failed to comply with Indiana Code Section 9-26-1-1. He waived his claim of Doyle violations by the prosecutor during closing statements and the trial court properly determined the substance of Barton’s proposed instruction was adequately covered by other jury instructions.

C & R Realty, LLC v. Jerry Tooley (NFP)
26A01-1007-PL-391
Civil plenary. Affirms denial of C&R Realty’s motion to set aside a default judgment under Trial Rule 60(B).

Quentin L. Taylor v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A04-1006-CR-388
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty pleas to three counts of Class B felony robbery, one count of Class B felony criminal confinement, and two counts of Class C felony battery.

Mamadou Sow v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1004-CR-516
Criminal. Affirms Class A misdemeanor conviction of resisting law enforcement.
 
Damon A. Myers v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1001-PC-154
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Kenneth J. DeBord v. State of Indiana (NFP)
87A01-1006-PC-290
Post conviction. Reverses denial of petition for post-conviction relief. Remands for further proceedings.
 
Paul Catterall v. James Donbrock d/b/a Donbrock Enterprises (NFP)
76A04-1004-SC-219
Small claims. Affirms conclusion Donbrock could collect maintenance fees from Catterall from Jan. 5, 2002, to July 12, 2002. The court erred by ordering Donbrock to pay fees for months prior to Jan. 5 and prejudgment interest. Reverses ruling regarding fees prior to Jan. 5 and remands for an order consistent with the opinion.

Jean D. Schoknecht v. Susan E. Dunlap (NFP)
49A04-0912-CV-745
Civil. Reverses Schoknecht’s claims as a landlord against tenant Dunlap.
 
R.B. v. Review Board (NFP)
93A02-1005-EX-589
Civil. Reverses denial of claim for unemployment benefits.
 
Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.
 

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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