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Order for IBM to pay subcontractor in state suits affirmed

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An appeals court Tuesday affirmed trial court orders that IBM pay a subcontractor for costs it incurred related to lawsuits over the failed $1.3 billion Family and Social Services Administration modernization contract.

The panel upheld Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer’s ruling that ACS Human Services LLC was entitled to receive from IBM $709,398.95 in costs related to discovery and production of documents. The trial court also later imposed sanctions of $425,178.85 against ACS, reducing total net damages payable to ACS from IBM to $284,219.15.

ACS and IBM each appealed the ruling on abuse-of-discretion bases. IBM claimed ACS was so closely linked to IBM that it was not entitled to payment of costs related to third-party participation in discovery, and that the court’s award was unsupported by the evidence. IBM sought almost $900,000 in sanctions against ACS.

ACS’ cross-appeal asserted it was entitled to more than $1.67 million, that sanctions against the company in favor of IBM were impermissible under Indiana Trial Rules, and that the company didn’t engage in sanctionable conduct, among other arguments.

The court rejected arguments on appeal from both sides. In an opinion written by Judge L. Mark Bailey and joined by Judges Cale Bradford and Melissa May, the judges agreed that both sides impermissibly asked the court to reweigh the evidence.

“Thus, as we did with IBM’s appeal, we decline ACS’s invitation to second-guess the trial court’s judgment, and affirm the trial court’s determination of the amount of sanctions to be paid by ACS,” Bailey wrote in International Business Machines Corporation v. ACS Human Services, LLC, 49A02-1301-PL-49.

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded ACS some, but not all, of the damages it requested as a result of its participation in discovery as a non-party under Trial Rule 34. Nor did the trial court abuse its discretion when it awarded IBM some, but not all, of the attorneys’ fees and other damages it incurred as a result of ACS’s failure to comply with the trial court’s discovery orders. We therefore affirm the trial court’s orders on both matters.”

The decision came one day after a separate panel heard arguments in the appeal of Dreyer’s award of $62 million in favor of IBM in a related case, State of Indiana v. IBM.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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