Supreme Court to hear legal malpractice, marijuana cases

The fate of a legal malpractice claim will be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court next week after the justices hear oral arguments to decide whether the claim can continue.

The case of Elizabeth Roumbos v. Samuel G. Vazanellis, et al., 45S03-1710-CT-00635, will come before the high court Thursday after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in February that Elizabeth Roumbos’ malpractice claim against a northern Indiana law firm could proceed. Roumbos sued attorney Samuel G. Vazanellis and Merillville law firm Thiros and Stracci P.C. after they failed to file a negligence complaint in her slip-and-fall claim against a Lake County hospital within the applicable statute of limitations.

The Lake Superior Court initially entered summary judgment for the firm after holding that Roumbos could not prove her claim would have been successful but for the firm’s negligence. But the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and allowed the malpractice claim to proceed in February, then reaffirmed its holding in June after granting a petition for rehearing. 

Vazanellis was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law by the Indiana Supreme Court in February for failing to cooperate with the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation of a grievance against him.

Roumbos v. Vazanellis will come before the justices at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The high court will then hear Brandon McGrath v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1710-CR-000653, in which a divided Court of Appeals reversed a man’s convictions for dealing in and possession of marijuana after determining police had insufficient evidence to corroborate an anonymous tip about an indoor marijuana grow. Further, even though officers discovered the marijuana grow in Brandon McGrath’s house pursuant to search warrants, the majority of appellate judges determined the officers’ training alone was not sufficient to support the issuance of the warrant. Judge Cale Bradford dissented.

Arguments in the McGrath case will begin at 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

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