Suit challenging construction of asphalt plant timely filed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that the Jeffersonville director of planning and zoning and the city building commissioner are public officers under Indiana Code 34-11-2-6. The judges discovered there is no state law defining public officer under this statute.

In Patricia J. Barrow and Charlie Hanka v. City of Jeffersonville, Jeffersonville Planning and Zoning Dept., Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeal, Jeffersonville Building Comm., et al., 10A05-1112-PL-647, Patricia Barrow and Charlie Hanka in August 2010 sued the city of Jeffersonville and other entities after the city’s Director of Planning and Zoning, Chester Hicks, and Building Commissioner, Russell Segraves, approved and issued an Improvement Location Permit to allow MAC Construction and Excavating to lease a portion of property to operate an asphalt plant. The property was used as a quarry.

Barrow and Hanka claimed the July 14, 2005, zoning interpretation and the Aug 4, 2005, ILP were improperly issued. They sought revocation of both. MAC argued the issue was barred by the statute of limitations under I.C. 34-11-2-6, which the trial court granted.

Under the statute, suits against a public officer must be filed within five years of when the cause of action accrued. The plaintiffs claimed the court erred when it found Hicks and Segraves were public officers protected by the statute of limitations. Determining how to define “public officer” for the first time under this statute, the Court of Appeals affirmed. It took into account statutes and caselaw.

“… we believe that in order for an individual to be a public officer under Indiana Code section 34-11-2-6, it must be determined that the individual holds a position for which duties are prescribed by law to serve a public purpose. We further conclude that the taking of an oath is not required to be a public officer, but the fact that one has been taken is a strong indicator of the position being one of a public officer,” Judge James Kirsch wrote.

The judges found both men to be public officers, so the statute of limitations is applicable. However, the court erred in granting summary judgment because the plaintiffs’ cause of action wasn’t barred by the five-year statute of limitations. The plaintiffs’ couldn’t have learned of the July 2005 letter or issuance of the ILP in August 2005, Kirsch continued. The earliest they could know of the plant construction was Nov. 30, 2005, when a public hearing on the construction was scheduled.

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on Aug. 16, 2010, which is within the five years of the date on which the cause of action accrued. The judges remanded the case for further proceedings.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.