Opinions June 2, 2015

Keywords neglect / Opinions
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Tommy R. Pruitt v. Ron Neal, Superintendent, Indiana State Prison
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Post conviction. Reverses death sentence for Tommy Pruitt, convicted of murder for killing Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Starnes in 2001. Pruitt has established that he is intellectually disabled and categorically ineligible for the death penalty and that trial counsel were ineffective in their investigation and presentation of evidence that Pruitt suffered from schizophrenia. Remands for new penalty-phase proceeding.

Indiana Supreme Court
Peter Griffith v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Peter Griffith’s conviction of Class C felony battery and sentence for stabbing his son-in-law, holding that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in excluding his proposed extrinsic evidence. Griffith sought to admit evidence of witnesses who claimed the victim told them he struck Griffith with a two-by-four piece of lumber before the stabbing. The trial court did not err by excluding the witnesses for impeachment purposes under Rule of Evidence 613(b). It was never established in the record that the victim was still available to be recalled as a witness to explain or deny the alleged statements, and Griffith failed to explain why the victim was not cross-examined when Griffith was afforded the opportunity to do so.

Rebecca Stafford, Individually and as Surviving Parent of Drayden Powell, Deceased, and Drayden Powell, Deceased v. James E. Szymanowski, M.D. and Gyn, Ltd., Inc.
Civil tort. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Dr. James E. Szymanowski, finding that a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding his alleged negligence raised by the testimony of a designated expert medical witness. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Gyn, Ltd. Inc. Affirms denial of a damages award under the Child Wrongful Death Statute.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Charles R. Whitlock v. Steel Dynamics, Inc.
Civil tort. Affirms grant of summary judgment in favor of Steel Dynamics. Finds affidavits describing Whitlock’s mental and physical limitations following his injury did not create a genuine issue of material fact. Explains more is required under Evidence Rule 701. Judge Melissa May dissents, arguing the affidavits do provide a question of fact for a jury.

Town of Zionsville, Indiana v. Town of Whitestown, Indiana and Angel Badillo
Civil plenary. Reverses granting of summary judgment in favor of Whitestown. Rejects Whitestown’s argument that the appeal is moot because Zionsville did not obtain a stay of the trial court’s order. Finds Zionsville has the authority under the 2006 Government Modernization Act to reorganize with Perry Township. Remands with instructions to enter judgments consistent with COA opinion.

Lincoln National Life Insurance Company v. Peter S. Bezich, individually and on behalf of a class of others similarly situated
Civil plenary. On interlocutory appeal, affirms in part, reverses in part and remands trial court rulings on class certification of a suit contending Lincoln National overcharged administrative fees and improperly adjusted rates based on mortality factors for Ensemble II life insurance issued to policyholders in 30 states between 1986 and 2008. The trial court properly granted class certification on one of three claims but erred in denying class certification on the other two claims. Class certification for determining liability is proper for each of Bezich’s three breach of contract claims. Remanded for proceedings.

Delmar P. Kuchaes v. Public Storage, Inc. (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Public Storage. Finds the Marion Superior Court erred in granting Public Storage’s motion for summary judgment without considering Kuchaes’ response and materials in opposition. Also, finds the trial court erred by ruling on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment without conducting a hearing. Remands with instructions for the trial court to conduct a hearing on both summary judgment motions and to consider all of the parties’ materials.

M.D. v. Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital (mem. dec.)
Mental health. Affirms order of forced medication following a regular involuntary commitment order expected to exceed 90 days.

M.S. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Juvenile. Affirms Marion Superior Court’s adjudication of M.S. as a delinquent child for committing robbery, a Class C felony.

Amanda and Joseph Emanuele and Alicia Emanuele v. Winford E. Moore, III (mem. dec.)
Guardianship. Affirms Johnson Superior Court’s order denying grandparents’ petition for permanent guardianship of minor child and awarding custody to the biological father.

In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of J.L., T.L. (Mother) v. The Ind. Dept. of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile. Affirms Marion Superior Court’s order terminating mother’s parental rights to J.L.

Antione Nelson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms sentence of 30 days in Hendricks County Jail and suspension of Nelson’s license for 180 days for driving while suspended, a Class A misdemeanor.

The Lewallen Revocable Trust, et al. v. Fifth Third Mortgage Company (mem. dec.)
Mortgage foreclosure. Affirms Dearborn Circuit Court’s Decree of Foreclosure with respect to one-half interest held by the trust. Reverses the Decree of Foreclosure with respect to Randall C. Lewallen’s one-half interest in the property.  http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/06021506par.pdf

Ricci Dale Davis, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of dealing in methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a youth program center, a Class A felony.

Ashley J. Todd v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms aggregate four-year sentence, fully executed in the Indiana Department of Correction for possession of methamphetamine, a Class D felony; maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony; possession of chemical reagents or precursors with the intent to manufacture, a Class D felony; possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; and theft, a Class D felony.


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