ILNews

School-fee case comes to a close - again

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Parents who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Evansville school fees have won another victory in Indiana appellate courts, this time relating to attorney fees.

The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a 21-page decision today in Frank Nagy, et al. v. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation, No 82A05-0609-CV-488, which involves a new issue stemming from an Indiana Supreme Court ruling last year. The case arose after the local district began charging every student a $20 student-services fee in fall 2002 as a way to make up for a $ 2.3 million deficient that year and a $ 5.3 million shortfall in 2003. The fees were ultimately declared unconstitutional in March 2006.

But on remand, the trial court denied the parents' requests for attorney fees on the issue of whether they're considered the "prevailing party." Parents appealed, arguing they are the prevailing party for purposes of the U.S. Constitution that provides for awarding attorney fees to parties who prevailed in actions brought to enforce federal constitutional rights.

"Turning to the specifics of the case before us, we must reject the trial court's determination that the Parents were not the prevailing party under Section 1988," the court wrote. "This outright victory upon the merits of the state constitutional claim fits within the generous definition of 'prevail' adopted by the federal Supreme Court."

However, left to be determined at the trial court level is how the fees should be divvied up to each set of parents - the Nagys and Bracketts, as the Bracketts joined the original suit later and were the only ones to bring a federal claim relating to attorney fees.

"Although we have addressed certain issues with regard to attorney fees. The ultimate calculation of reasonable attorney fees is a task for the trial court upon remand," the court wrote.
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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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