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Woman’s tort claim notice insufficient

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A trial court improperly granted summary judgment to a woman on whether her notice to the city of Indianapolis was sufficient to inform it of a potential personal injury claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In City of Indianapolis v. Rachel Buschman, 49A02-1108-CT-782, the city of Indianapolis on interlocutory appeal claimed that the tort claim notice Rachel Buschman provided following an accident with a city police officer was insufficient. Buschman was rear-ended by the officer on July 25, 2008; on Aug. 1, she submitted her tort claim notice to the city. In it, she described the damage and said “no injuries.”

Less than a year later she sued the city, alleging as a result of its negligence she suffered personal injuries, including pain in her lower body and back and herniation of lumbar discs. The city contended that her claims were barred because her tort claim notice didn’t include information about personal injuries.

Buschman argued that at the time she mailed her notice, she only had soreness and didn’t believe she had an injury. It was later that she decided to seek medical treatment. The trial court concluded the notice was sufficient as a matter of law.

The Court of Appeals reversed because the notice contained an explicit denial of injuries so the city had no reason to investigate a personal injury claim or anticipate a claim for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, wrote Judge Michael Barnes. The judges rejected her claim that the purpose of the statute was fulfilled because the city knew of her intent to make a claim and they could investigate the specifics of the accident to prepare a defense.

“[W]e hold that, when a claimant’s notice contains a specific and definitive assessment of loss, his or her recovery is limited to the loss described in the original notice. Alternatively, if, as is the case here, additional losses are discovered after the notice has been submitted, we see no reason why the claimant could not amend the original notice or submit another notice in a timely manner,” he wrote.

The judges remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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