Opinions Aug. 20, 2018

Keywords Opinions

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline Friday:
USA v. David Watson

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Judge Rudy Lozano. 
Criminal. Vacates and remands the district court’s denial of David Watson’s motion to suppress two guns found in a vehicle search. Finds the vehicle search was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment due to lack of reasonable suspicion. Also finds the circumstances did not necessitate an emergency response from police. Finally, finds the anonymous call less reliable because it was untraceable. 

Monday opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
George A. Plessinger, II, v. Nancy A. Berryhill 

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
Judge William c. Lee
Civil. Reverse and remands the denial of Social Security disability benefits to George Plessinger. Finds the administrative law judge did not do his own evaluation of the claimant’s credibility and instead relied too heavily on the testimony of one physician who did not examine the claimant but only reviewed the medical records. 

Indiana Court of Appeals
A.M. v. State of Indiana 

Juvenile. Affirms the placement of then-15-year-old A.M. in the Department of Correction after multiple findings against him. The Kosciusko Superior Court acted within its discretion in modifying A.M.’s placement, and he was not denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.  

Ronnie Ricketts, Jr. v. State of Indiana 
Criminal. Affirms Ronnie Ricketts, Jr.’s 17 ½ year sentence for his conviction of Level 2 felony burglary and the denial of his request to proceed pro se. Finds the Vanderburgh Superior Court did not err in denying Rickets request to represent himself. Also finds his Ricketts’ is inappropriately harsh. 

Levetta Tunstall v. Dawn Manning
Civil tort. Affirms the Marion Superior Court’s award of $1.3 million in damages to Dawn Manning after she was involved in a minor vehicle accident. Finds the verdict is not excessive. Also Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow Tunstall to cross-examine Manning’s expert witness about his disciplinary history with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. Finally, finds the trial court did not commit fundamental error by discharging a juror during deliberations, and jury deliberations were not improperly tainted by the comments of a juror. Judge John Baker dissents with a separate opinion. 

Bradley Back v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Bradley Back’s verified motion to reduce bail. Finds the Dearborn Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in declining to find Back made a showing of good cause to support the alteration or reduction in the amount of his cash bond or in finding Back poses a risk to the physical safety of another person or the community. 

Maeson Lee Coffin v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Maeson Lee Coffin’s 15-year aggregate sentence for his convictions of Level 4 felony burglary, Level 6 felony auto theft and Level 6 felony theft. Finds Coffin failed to establish an abuse of discretion in the imposition of consecutive sentences. Also finds Coffin failed to meet his burden of demonstrating his sentence is inappropriate. 

In re Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of J.L.-E. (Minor Child) and B.T. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of J.L.-E.’s parental rights. Finds there was sufficient evidence to support the termination order. 

Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services v. Harrison County Hospital (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Reverses the trial court’s judgment on Floyd Memorial Hospital & Health Services’ affirmative defenses of abandonment and waiver against Harrison County Hospital’s breach complaint. Affirms the rulings on the equitable estoppel affirmative defense, the enforceability of the operating agreement between HCH and Floyd and the issue of damages. Finds there are genuine issues of material fact related to the abandonment and waiver defenses. Also finds that Floyd did not cite to any provision of the operating agreement to show HCH had a duty to inform Floyd that it had breached the agreement. Finally, finds the trial court did not err when it found the right of first refusal provision in the operating agreement was enforceable or abuse its discretion when it denied Floyd’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of damages. Remands. 

Robert Carl Johnson v. Corrections Officer Captain Blattner, et al. (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Reverses the grant of summary judgment to two corrections officers, Captain Blattner and Officer Schell. Finds there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Robert Carl Johnson exhausted his administrative remedies. Remands for further proceedings. 

Jeffery C. Hatcher, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Jeffery C. Hatcher, Jr.’s 12-year aggregate sentence for his convictions of three counts of Level 4 felony dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug. Finds Hatcher’s sentence is not inappropriate. 

Donna M. Adams v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal.  Affirms Donna M. Adams’ 25-year sentence for his conviction of level 1 felony child molesting. Finds Adams’ sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and her character. 

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