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Justices agree to hear jury instruction, non-compete cases

September 4, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to two cases last week, including to a decision that gave a defendant the opportunity for a retrial after the Indiana Court of Appeals determined a jury instruction on “fleeing” law enforcement was fundamentally erroneous.

In Christapher Batchelor v. State of Indiana,18S-CR-436, the Court of Appeals reversed Christapher Batchelor’s conviction of Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement by fleeing in a vehicle, which was premised on Batchelor’s failure to pull over for nearly two minutes after an officer tried to initiate a traffic stop. In reversing the conviction, the appellate court noted the instruction on “fleeing” misrepresented the statutory mens rea requiring proof that Batchelor “knowingly or intentionally” fled.

The justices also granted transfer to a case involving a non-compete dispute between two civil engineering firms, American Consulting, Inc. d/b/a American Structurepoint, Inc. v. Hannum Wagle & Cline Engineering, Inc. d/b/a HWC Engineering, Inc., Marlin A. Knowles, Jr., Jonathan A. Day, Tom Mobley, and David Lancet, 18S-PL-437. In that case, the COA ruled the Marion Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment to HWC Engineering on the issue of liquidated damages, which HWC had argued could not be awarded to its competitor, American Structurepoint, because ASI’s non-compete agreements were unenforceable penalties.

The appellate court also affirmed the denial of summary judgment to HWC on ASI’s claims of tortious interference with a contractual relationship and breach of contract. Judge Patricia Riley concurred with the majority in part and dissented in part, finding the trial court did not erroneously grant summary judgment to HWC on ASI’s claims for liquidated damages.

The justices denied transfer to 32 other cases for the week ending Aug. 31. The full list of transfer decisions can be read here.

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