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Woman did not exhaust administrative remedies before suing

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a Marion Superior judge that the courts do not have jurisdiction over a woman’s lawsuit concerning the disconnection of her water because the woman did not exhaust all her available administrative remedies before suing.

Leslie Bridges filed a class action seeking the return of her $25 reconnection fee as well as unspecified damages and attorney fees against Veolia Water. The company turned her water off twice for nonpayment, and her services were governed by a tariff approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

At the time of the disconnection and filing of her suit, Veolia Water managed and operated the water treatment and distribution facilities of the Department of Waterworks, a municipal water utility.

Bridges’ lawsuit claimed that Veolia and/or the DOW violated the terms of the tariff when it turned off her water without following procedures outlined in the tariff.  The department and Veolia moved to have the suit dismissed for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies; Bridges argued that utilization of the tariff-prescribed administrative remedies would have been futile and that the IURC did not have exclusive jurisdiction over her claim.

Marion Superior Judge Heather Welch dismissed Bridges’ suit in August 2011 and denied Bridges’ motion to correct error in November 2011.

The Court of Appeals, citing Bloomington Country Club Inc. v. City of Bloomington Water & Wastewater Utils, 827 N.E.2d 1213, 1219 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), concluded that Indiana Code 8-1-2-68 through -70 grant the IURC exclusive jurisdiction over Bridges’ claim, regardless of whether it is treated as a challenge to and a request for reimbursement of the $25 reconnect fee or as a challenge to the allegedly improper act of terminating her residential water service in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the tariff.

The judges rejected Bridges’ claim that utilizing the administrative remedies would have been futile, pointing out that the IURC can grant a refund of charges collected by utilities, plus interest. The commission also could have determined whether the defendants did, in fact, violate terms of the tariff, which would allow Bridges the chance to seek additional damages incurred beyond the refund in court, the judges held in Leslie Bridges v. Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC, Veolia Water North America Operating Service, LLC, and The City of Indianapolis, Dept. of Waterworks, 49A02-1112-CC-1097.  
 

 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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