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Texas Roadhouse fire suit among 4 justices take

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A lawsuit over liability for a fire that destroyed an Indianapolis steakhouse because hydrants were frozen and unusable will proceed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Justices granted transfer in Veolia Water Indianapolis LLC, City of Indianapolis Department of Waterworks, and City of Indianapolis v. National Trust Insurance Company and FCCI Insurance Company a/s/o Ultra Steak, Inc. d/b/a Texas Roadhouse, 49S04-1301-PL-8. It was one of four cases granted transfer for the week ending Jan. 4. The transfer list may be viewed here.  

In the Texas Roadhouse case, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court, finding that the city of Indianapolis and water company – which contracts with the city to operate the water utility – are entitled to common law immunity from a lawsuit brought by the restaurant and its insurers because of the fire. The plaintiffs argued that the frozen hydrants, which delayed firefighters’ ability to put out the fire, were a result of the hydrants not being properly closed by private parties who paid the defendants for water use.

The trial court had concluded that the commercial sale of water took the city’s and utility’s actions outside the scope of common law immunity for firefighting. The trial court also held that the insurers were third-party beneficiaries of Veolia’s contract with the city.

The justices also granted transfer to:

•    Andrew McWhorter v. State of Indiana, 33S01-1301-PC-7, in which a man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Henry Circuit Court won a reversal from the Court of Appeals and a remand for retrial on a charge of reckless homicide;
•    Ronald G. Becker v. State of Indiana, 45S03-1301-CR-9, in which a Lake Superior Court and the Court of Appeals affirmed an order vacating a determination that Ronald Becker was entitled to relief from registering as a sexually violent predator on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.
•    Kevin Clark v. State of Indiana, 20S05-1301-CR-10, in which the Court of Appeals affirmed admission of evidence and police testimony that led a jury to convict Kevin Clark of Class A felony attempted dealing in methamphetamine and sentence him to 45 years in prison.

Justices denied transfer in 26 cases.

 

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