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Trial that OK’d Jasper energy plant conversion error-filled

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A judge who ruled against opponents of the conversion of a former coal-fired energy plant in Jasper abused her discretion on a series of matters, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Monday in reversing a bench trial that found for the city.

The appellate panel stopped short of saying that there were clear violations of the Indiana Open Door Law by the city or its “volunteer” board dominated by city official that met frequently with representatives of a company that won the city’s endorsement of a proposal to convert a dormant coal-fired plant to a biomass-burning plant.

A citizens group called Healthy Dubois County formed to oppose the project because of concern that burning miscanthus grass to produce electricity could carry public health risks. It sued in an attempt to block the signing of any agreements on the plant conversion, claiming among other things that officials had violated the Open Door Law with meetings that led to approval of the proposal.

In Dr. Norma Kreilein, Rock Emmert, and Healthy Dubois County, Inc. v. Common Council of the City of Jasper and Jasper Utility Board, 19A04-1201-MI-51, the appeals court found that Special Judge M. Lucy Goffinet in Dubois Circuit Court had erred in denying HDC’s amended motions after discovery yielded more avenues through which discovery could occur.

“In sum, HDC has demonstrated that it was diligent in pursuing discovery, but was thwarted for months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate. Less than two weeks prior to trial, HDC obtained information in the course of depositions that suggested possible Open Door Law violations by the volunteer group. The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint, filed only four months after its initial complaint and while discovery was ongoing,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel.

“The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s motion to continue the trial. We reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court: (1) grant HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint; (2) grant HDC an additional thirty days to conduct new discovery, including but not limited to depositions; (3) grant HDC’s second motion to compel discovery; and (4) schedule a new trial to be held no less than thirty days after the close of discovery.”

The panel also noted the unusually swift nature of the bench trial. In a footnote, Najam wrote, “Our research has not revealed any cases involving the Open Door Law where the time between the filing of the complaint and trial was so abbreviated.”  
 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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