Top cases of 2013

Top cases of 2013

AM General LLC v. BAE Systems Inc., et al., 71D07-0907-PL00195. St. Joseph Superior Judge Michael P. Scopelitis ruled in April that Humvee maker AM General LLC of Mishawaka is entitled to more than $277 million from the company that supplied kits for troops to retrofit the vehicles with armor, and for armor installed in subsequent years. BAE Systems breached its contract with AM General and violated most-favored customer clauses. Scopelitis’ ruling painted a picture of rampant overcharges from BAE and its predecessor companies that AM General passed on to the Army, even as AM General sought to determine true costs. The government ultimately determined it was overcharged millions due to BAE’s pricing for armored parts. BAE, a United Kingdom-based company, filed its appeal in October, which is still pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

hazing-15col.jpg The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in April in an alleged hazing liability suit involving the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity house at Wabash College. (IL file photo)

Brian Yost v. Wabash College, Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity – Indiana Gamma Chapter at Wabash College, and Nathan Cravens, 54S01-1303-CT-61. The college hazing case is pending before the Indiana Supreme Court. The justices are asked to decide what constitutes hazing and whether Wabash College and Phi Kappa Psi’s Indiana Gamma Chapter owed a duty to protect pledge Brian Yost, who was injured when fraternity brothers placed him in a chokehold and dropped him. The Indiana Court of Appeals in October 2012 affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the college and fraternity defendants, holding they owed no duty to Yost. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing the facts could lead one to conclude that Yost was hazed.

Bowman v. Monsanto Co., et al., 11-796. The Supreme Court of the United States in May unanimously held that patent exhaustion doesn’t allow Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. Monsanto Co. sued Bowman for patent infringement after he purchased soybeans intended for consumption from a grain elevator and planted them later in the season. The purchase agreement of Roundup Ready soybeans – which Bowman purchased for his first crop of the season – allows a grower to plant those seeds only in one season. Those seeds can’t be saved for replanting or supplied to someone else for that purpose. Bowman used some of the soybeans that contained the Roundup Ready trait again for late-season planting in the next season. A federal court in Indiana had awarded nearly $85,000 in damages to Monsanto. Bowman argued that patent exhaustion shouldn’t apply in this case because he used the seeds in the normal way farmers do.

weinberger-mark-mug.jpg Weinberger

• In the summer, a majority of former patients of “Nose Doctor” Mark Weinberger of Merrillville settled their medical malpractice cases against him. More than 300 of Weinberger’s former patients sued after learning he performed unnecessary or damaging surgeries on their sinuses. When the cases began mounting against Weinberger, he fled the country and eluded authorities for years before being captured in 2009 in the Italian Alps. The patient settlements will average more than $200,000 and range from about $120,000 to $470,000. The settlement did not include cases represented by the Merrillville law office of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.

Daniel Brewington v. State of Indiana, 15A01-1110-CR-550. This First Amendment case centers on posts by Daniel Brewington on blogs that took aim at Dearborn Circuit Judge James Humphrey, who presided in Brewington’s custody case. Brewington was prosecuted for the posts that claimed, among other things, that Humphrey was a child abuser for stripping Brewington of custody. He was convicted of intimidation, perjury and obstruction of justice based on the comments. A dozen parties filed amicus briefs, fearing that if the verdict that was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals stands, it will chill speech, opinions expressed in the media and political speech. The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in September as to whether to take the case, and no transfer had been granted or denied by IL deadline.

Indiana Newspapers, Inc. v. Miller, 980 N.E.2d 852 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012), ended in October when Indiana Supreme Court vacated the transfer it had granted in the case. The Indianapolis Star agreed to work on complying with a court order that the newspaper provide identifying characteristics of a commenter who posted on the paper’s website. Former Junior Achievement of Indiana CEO Jeffrey Miller sued multiple parties for defamation and sought to add people who made anonymous comments on news organization websites that ran stories about Miller and Junior Achievement. He sued The Star after it refused to provide information about “DownWithTheColts.” The newspaper argued in court that the speech of the online commenter was protected under the First Amendment.

shuai Shuai

• The murder and attempted feticide charges against Bei Bei Shuai were dropped in August after she pleaded guilty to Class B misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Shuai’s case made international headlines after the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed the murder and attempted feticide charges following the death of her newborn daughter more than two years ago. Shuai, a Chinese immigrant, ingested rat poison while pregnant after being jilted by the baby’s father. The newborn was delivered but died several days later. Her attorney, Linda Pence, argued that charges never should have been filed as Shuai was depressed. The plea deal came after adverse rulings from the trial court that limited or may have limited the state’s evidence. Shuai was in jail for 14 months until the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered she was entitled to bail. Her trial was set to begin in September.

William D. Grote, III, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., 13-1077. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in November ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic owners of Grote Industries, which sought relief from the “contraception mandate” in the Affordable Care Act under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The split Circuit Court ordered an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the mandate, which requires companies that provide health insurance to employees provide coverage for birth control. Dissenting Judge Ilana Rovner warned that the appellate court was rewriting the law to extend rights of religion to a for-profit, secular corporation, opening a host of federal regulations to religious challenge from corporation owners. Also in November, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to take two other cases dealing with the contraception mandate.•

AM General LLC v. BAE Systems Inc., et al., 71D07-0907-PL00195. St. Joseph Superior Judge Michael P. Scopelitis ruled in April that Humvee maker AM General LLC of Mishawaka is entitled to more than $277 million from the company that supplied kits for troops to retrofit the vehicles with armor, and for armor installed in subsequent years. BAE Systems breached its contract with AM General and violated most-favored customer clauses. Scopelitis’ ruling painted a picture of rampant overcharges from BAE and its predecessor companies that AM General passed on to the Army, even as AM General sought to determine true costs. The government ultimately determined it was overcharged millions due to BAE’s pricing for armored parts. BAE, a United Kingdom-based company, filed its appeal in October, which is still pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

hazing-15col.jpg The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in April in an alleged hazing liability suit involving the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity house at Wabash College. (IL file photo)

Brian Yost v. Wabash College, Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity – Indiana Gamma Chapter at Wabash College, and Nathan Cravens, 54S01-1303-CT-61. The college hazing case is pending before the Indiana Supreme Court. The justices are asked to decide what constitutes hazing and whether Wabash College and Phi Kappa Psi’s Indiana Gamma Chapter owed a duty to protect pledge Brian Yost, who was injured when fraternity brothers placed him in a chokehold and dropped him. The Indiana Court of Appeals in October 2012 affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the college and fraternity defendants, holding they owed no duty to Yost. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing the facts could lead one to conclude that Yost was hazed.

Bowman v. Monsanto Co., et al., 11-796. The Supreme Court of the United States in May unanimously held that patent exhaustion doesn’t allow Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. Monsanto Co. sued Bowman for patent infringement after he purchased soybeans intended for consumption from a grain elevator and planted them later in the season. The purchase agreement of Roundup Ready soybeans – which Bowman purchased for his first crop of the season – allows a grower to plant those seeds only in one season. Those seeds can’t be saved for replanting or supplied to someone else for that purpose. Bowman used some of the soybeans that contained the Roundup Ready trait again for late-season planting in the next season. A federal court in Indiana had awarded nearly $85,000 in damages to Monsanto. Bowman argued that patent exhaustion shouldn’t apply in this case because he used the seeds in the normal way farmers do.

weinberger-mark-mug.jpg Weinberger

• In the summer, a majority of former patients of “Nose Doctor” Mark Weinberger of Merrillville settled their medical malpractice cases against him. More than 300 of Weinberger’s former patients sued after learning he performed unnecessary or damaging surgeries on their sinuses. When the cases began mounting against Weinberger, he fled the country and eluded authorities for years before being captured in 2009 in the Italian Alps. The patient settlements will average more than $200,000 and range from about $120,000 to $470,000. The settlement did not include cases represented by the Merrillville law office of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.

Daniel Brewington v. State of Indiana, 15A01-1110-CR-550. This First Amendment case centers on posts by Daniel Brewington on blogs that took aim at Dearborn Circuit Judge James Humphrey, who presided in Brewington’s custody case. Brewington was prosecuted for the posts that claimed, among other things, that Humphrey was a child abuser for stripping Brewington of custody. He was convicted of intimidation, perjury and obstruction of justice based on the comments. A dozen parties filed amicus briefs, fearing that if the verdict that was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals stands, it will chill speech, opinions expressed in the media and political speech. The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in September as to whether to take the case, and no transfer had been granted or denied by IL deadline.

Indiana Newspapers, Inc. v. Miller, 980 N.E.2d 852 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012), ended in October when Indiana Supreme Court vacated the transfer it had granted in the case. The Indianapolis Star agreed to work on complying with a court order that the newspaper provide identifying characteristics of a commenter who posted on the paper’s website. Former Junior Achievement of Indiana CEO Jeffrey Miller sued multiple parties for defamation and sought to add people who made anonymous comments on news organization websites that ran stories about Miller and Junior Achievement. He sued The Star after it refused to provide information about “DownWithTheColts.” The newspaper argued in court that the speech of the online commenter was protected under the First Amendment.

shuai Shuai

• The murder and attempted feticide charges against Bei Bei Shuai were dropped in August after she pleaded guilty to Class B misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Shuai’s case made international headlines after the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed the murder and attempted feticide charges following the death of her newborn daughter more than two years ago. Shuai, a Chinese immigrant, ingested rat poison while pregnant after being jilted by the baby’s father. The newborn was delivered but died several days later. Her attorney, Linda Pence, argued that charges never should have been filed as Shuai was depressed. The plea deal came after adverse rulings from the trial court that limited or may have limited the state’s evidence. Shuai was in jail for 14 months until the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered she was entitled to bail. Her trial was set to begin in September.

William D. Grote, III, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., 13-1077. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in November ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic owners of Grote Industries, which sought relief from the “contraception mandate” in the Affordable Care Act under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The split Circuit Court ordered an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the mandate, which requires companies that provide health insurance to employees provide coverage for birth control. Dissenting Judge Ilana Rovner warned that the appellate court was rewriting the law to extend rights of religion to a for-profit, secular corporation, opening a host of federal regulations to religious challenge from corporation owners. Also in November, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to take two other cases dealing with the contraception mandate.•

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