Opinions March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Friday:

In re the Adoption of E.B.F., J.W. v. D.F.
Adoption. Grants transfer and reverses the petition to adopt E.B.F. without J.W., his mother’s, consent. Finds the totality of J.W.’s circumstances justified her failure to communicate with her child for a one-year period. Also finds M.F., the father, and D.F., the stepmother’s, unwillingness to abide by the custody modification frustrated J.W.’s ability to communicate. Finally, finds J.W.’s consent was necessary to grant the adoption petition. Remands for further proceedings. Justice Geoffrey Slaughter dissents with separate opinion joined by Justice Mark Massa.

The Care Group Heart Hospital, LLC v. Roderick J. Sawyer, M.D.
Civil plenary. Affirms and reverses in part the Marion Superior Court’s rulings in Dr. Roderick J. Sawyer, M.D.’s breach of contract claim against The Care Group Heart Hospital, LLC. Finds the hospital did not breach its agreement with Sawyer by paying out his ownership interest in the hospital after he was terminated, but did breach the agreement by delaying the payout. Also finds Sawyer is entitled to interest. Finally, finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Sawyer discovery sanctions of $27,233.19 in attorney fees and expenses. 

Monday opinions

Indiana Supreme Court

Dennis Garner v. Gregory S. Kempf and Clerk of Vanderburgh County (garnishee)
Civil plenary. Reverses the Vanderburgh Superior Court’s judgment for the Clerk of Vanderburgh County. Finds Indiana law allows a judgment-creditor to garnish a cash bail bond posted by a judgment-debtor and held by a court clerk in an unrelated criminal matter. Also finds the Vanderburgh County clerk is liable to Dennis Garner for the $5,000 bond proceeds. Remands with instructions to enter judgment for Garner. Justice Steven David dissents with separate opinion joined by Chief Justice Loretta Rush.

Indiana Court of Appeals

James E. Hinkle v. State of Indiana
Post-conviction. Affirms James E. Hinkle’s convictions for child molesting as a Class A felony and sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class D felony, his adjudication for being a repeat sexual offender and the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded evidence of S.B.’s prior drug use. Also finds the post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion when it prohibited Hinkle from obtaining all documents, records and videos that his trial counsel had access to in preparing for his trial, and Hinkle’s trial counsel was not ineffective. Finally, finds the post-conviction court’s judgment was consistent with the requirement that such judgments be supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law.

S.B. v. Seymour Community Schools
Protective order. Affirms the issuance of a protective order against S.B. on behalf of Seymour Community Schools. Finds the school corporation has standing to petition for an order for protection on behalf of its students. Also finds the Jackson Superior Court’s issuance of the protective order on these facts is not clearly erroneous. Remands with instructions to the trial court to modify the protective order.

Michael Allen Shoaf v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Michael Allen Shoaf’s convictions on two counts of child molesting as level 1 felonies. Finds the Tippecanoe Circuit Court did not commit fundamental error when it determined K.P. was competent to testify at trial. Also finds the incredible dubiosity rule does not apply because K.P. was not a sole testifying witness.

Marvin Williams v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Marvin Williams’ conviction for carrying a handgun without a license as a Class A misdemeanor. Finds evidence of probative value exists from which the Marion Superior Court could find that Williams had constructive possession of the gun and could have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of carrying a handgun “on or about his person” without a license.

Kenton B. Myers v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Kenton Myers’ convictions of Level 4 felony burglary, Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. Finds the Morgan Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Myers’ motion for a mistrial. Also finds that Myers’ argument that the jury’s verdicts were fatally inconsistent is not available for appellate review. Finally, finds the state presented sufficient evidence to support Myers’ burglary conviction.

Victor Spina v. Owners Insurance Company (mem. dec.)
Civil tort. Affirms the determination that Owners Insurance Company did not a duty to defend Victor Spina in an underlying lawsuit relating to his business dealings. Finds applicable authority indicates that the question of whether an insurance provider owes an insured a duty to defend is to be determined by the court, so the Morgan Circuit Court did not violate Spina’s right to a jury trial.

Aaron Coates v. Valeo Financial Advisors, LLC (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Affirms the entry of summary judgment in favor of Valeo Financial Advisors, LLC on its complaint alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and account stated. Finds the Marion Superior Court did not err when it entered summary judgment in favor of Valeo.

Stephen Byrd v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Stephen Byrd’s conviction of Level 5 felony battery with a deadly weapon. Finds the St. Joseph Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in denying Byrd’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.