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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in three cases - David Michael Green v. State of Indiana; Beth Palmer Kopczynski and Alisha Palmer v. David B. and Peggy L. Barger; and Richard U. and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, et al.

In Green v. State, 45A05-0612-CR-708, Green appealed his conviction and sentence for two counts of felony murder, claiming his victim's death was out of self-defense and an accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed the state presented sufficient evidence to prove Green did not murder his victim, who was pregnant, out of self-defense and accident.

Green also appealed the admission of his pretrial statement to police and argued the imposition of consecutive sentences was inappropriate. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court finding that Green's statement to police would be admissible because he had not been charged with a crime at the time of the statement nor was he engaged in plea negotiations. The Court of Appeals also ruled Green's consecutive sentence was appropriate because of the nature of the crime and multiple victims.

In Beth Palmer Kopczynski and Alisha Palmer v. David B. and Peggy L. Barger, 88A05-0612-CV-703, Kopczynski and her minor daughter, Alisha, appealed the trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bargers on their claims for negligence and premises liability, which the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Palmers claimed there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Bargers were negligent in letting Alisha play unsupervised on their trampoline, as well as the Bargers should be liable for Alisha's knee injury while on the trampoline because it was an attractive nuisance.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment because Alisha was invited to play on the trampoline by the Bargers' young son, who lacked the authority to invite her to play on it. Alisha was determined to be trespassing when she came on the Bargers' property to play on the trampoline, and there is no evidence of willful or wanton conduct by the Bargers.

On their attractive nuisance claim, the Court of Appeals ruled the Palmers failed to show any evidence establishing the trampoline was particularly dangerous to children and that they would not comprehend the danger, nor did they show any evidence that the Bargers knew children may trespass on their property and be injured by the trampoline.

In Richard U. and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, et al., 36A01-0412-CT-36, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision to dismiss the Pflanzes' action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Pflanzes appealed, claiming the trial court erred in determining they did not bring their claim within the applicable statute of limitations.

The Pflanzes purchased Foster's property, where he used to own a Sunoco gas station, and ran a Big O Tires of Seymour on the site. The Pflanzes claim they never knew there were any environmental issues with the site when the Indiana Department of Environmental Management discovered underground storage tanks were causing contamination. The Pflanzes brought a suit against Foster, alleging waste and negligence and sought contribution, attorney fees, and cost for environmental liability; the Pflanzes spent more than $100,000 to clean the site.

The Pflanzes purchased the property in 1978 and the contamination was not discovered until 2001. They argue that the applicable 10-year statute of limitations did not begin until the discovery of contamination or payment of remediation. The Indiana Supreme Court previously ruled that Indiana Code 13-23-13-8, which allows a plaintiff to receive contribution from a previous owner or operator of underground storage tanks if a release occurred during that individual's ownership or operation, has a 10-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court also held the statute of limitations is discovery based and begins to run once the claimant knew or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the damage.

The trial court found that the Pflanzes knew or through exercise of reasonable diligence should have known about the onsite contamination by 1991, when amendments were made to the 1987 Indiana legislation enacted concerning underground storage tanks. The Pflanzes took no action to discover if the tanks on the property were leaking.
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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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