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Property mortgagor, managers owed no duty in case of drowned girl

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A trial court correctly dismissed a wrongful death case the mother of a 5-year-old girl filed against a mortgage company and other defendants after the child drowned in the pool of a house that had been abandoned.

Sheyenne R. Jenkins drowned in the pool of a home in the Ian’s Pointe subdivision of Avon in 2008 after she wandered away from relatives’ home a couple of properties away. Her mother sued the mortgagor, management compnay and homeowners association, and a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. The appeal is Secrena D. Erwin, individually and as Mother of Sheyenne R. Jenkins, deceased v. HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc., Ian's Pointe Homeowners Association, Inc., and R&G Management Co., Inc., et al., 32A01-1202-CT-80.

The house’s former owner had filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the house in January of that same year. Neighbors eventually complained about the deteriorating and dangerous conditions of a pool and its partially submerged cover, and a neighbor said a representative of R & G Management Co. Inc., d/b/a Community Association Services of Indiana, represented in a phone call that the situation “would be taken care of.” Court records indicate nothing was done afterward.

“Even if we were to take the leap with Mother and infer that this was an assurance that CASI would go onto the property and secure the pool, the fact is that CASI did not act upon this promise in any way,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote for the court.

“The trial court correctly determined as a matter of law that this is not a case of gratuitous assumption of duty. The trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants based upon lack of duty. Because we have affirmed the grant of summary judgment on this ground, we need not reach the attractive nuisance issue addressed by the parties,” Friedlander wrote.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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