IDEM whistleblower case goes to Supreme Court

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear the case of a woman who claims she was fired from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for blowing the whistle for questionable payments.

After a trial court dismissed her whistleblower complaint, the Indiana Court of Appeals in December reversed and now the justices will hear Suzanne E. Esserman v. Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 49S02-1704-PL-189.

Suzanne Esserman claimed that when she began to ask questions about submitted invoices and receipts, she was disciplined for working too slowly, and then later fired.

Justices also granted transfer in an Evansville case in which a divided Court of Appeals reversed a man’s felony and misdemeanor drug convictions, deeming the “military-style assault on his home unreasonable. The court agreed to hear Mario Deon Watkins v. State of Indiana, 82S01-1704-CR-191. The majority reversed Watkins’ convictions, but Judge Melissa May in dissent found the search of Watkins’ home reasonable under the totality of circumstances.

The court also agreed to take Richard D. Shepard v. State of Indiana, 81S01-1704-CR190,  a case dealing with good-time credit. Shepard had a discipline action that resulted in the loss of good-time credit in a community correction program, and the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled he wasn’t entitled to a restoration of credit when his probation was revoked.

Justices deadlocked on whether to grant transfer in a case where the Court of Appeals reversed a termination of parental rights, ruling against the Department of Child Services for what it called an “extraordinarily troubling pattern of behavior.” In In re the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of O.G. II (minor child) and K.T. (Mother) & O.G. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A02-1605-JT-1072, Justices Robert Rucker and Geoffrey Slaughter voted to deny transfer, Justices Steven David and Mark Massa voted to grant transfer, and Chief Justice Loretta Rush did not participate.

Justices last week also granted transfer and decided Charles McKeen, M.D. v. Billy Turner, 53S05-1704-CT-202, affirming the Indiana Court of Appeals’ ruling on evidentiary matters in medical malpractice cases.

 Supreme Court transfer petition dispositions for the week ending April 7 may be viewed here.

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