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Justices to decide dealership relocation dispute

December 3, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court is going to decide whether a Toyota dealership can relocate from Anderson to Fishers over the objections of three existing greater Indianapolis Toyota dealers.

Andy Mohr Toyota, Butler Toyota and Tom Wood Toyota asked the Auto Dealer Services Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to find the proposed relocation was without good cause, which would have blocked the move. But the division denied their requests, ruling that because the dealerships were outside the 6-mile market area where the dealership would relocate, they lacked standing for a challenge under state law.

Anderson-based Ed Martin Toyota sought to relocate to Fishers.

The dealerships appealed to a Marion Superior Court that affirmed the division’s ruling, but in a 2-1 ruling in August, a majority of the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and sent the matter back to the division for a do-over. The judges wrangled with interpreting the Indiana Dealer Services statutes as a matter of first impression on whether the proposed entry into the market constituted a proposed dealership or a relocation, each of which is addressed in Indiana Code.

The case is Andy Mohr West, Inc. d/b/a Andy Mohr Toyota, Butler Motors, Inc. d/b/a Butler Toyota, and TW Toy, Inc. d/b/a Tom Wood Toyota v. Office of the Ind. Sec. of State, Auto Dealer Services Div. et al, 49S02-1511-PL-668.

The justices also granted transfer to a criminal case in which a defendant’s letter to a victim’s mother was found to be sufficient to support a charge of attempted invasion of privacy. Newland McElfresh pleaded guilty to three counts of child molesting in April 2013. Prior to his hearing and sentencing, he wrote a four-page letter to the mother of one of the abused minors.

The state subsequently charged McElfresh with invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor, and attempted obstruction of justice, a Class D felony. Following a bench trial, the Hendricks Superior Court found McElfresh guilty of these two charges and sentenced him to an aggregate term of 600 days in the Indiana Department of Correction.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed based on insufficient evidence. The appellate court did hold that McElfresh’s writing of the letter and requesting the mother to talk to the minor child was a “substantial step” toward committing another crime. The Court of Appeals then remanded with instructions to enter judgment for attempted invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor.

The case is Newland McElfresh v. State of Indiana, 32S01-1511-CR-667.

The justices denied transfer to 24 other cases for the week ending Nov. 27. The complete list is available on the court’s website.

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