Justices to hear ‘piecemeal’ CHINS litigation, auto part supply cases

Indiana Supreme Court justices will hear oral argument in two cases this week, including a dispute over “piecemeal” litigation in a children in need of services case and an auto assembly supply dispute coming before the court on petition to transfer.

In the CHINS case, Matter of Eq.W., et al., 18S-JC-00603, all five of V.B.’s children were removed from her care and custody when the Department of Child Services alleged she was under the influence of drugs while parenting the children. DCS then alleged the children were CHINS, but the Monroe Circuit Court dismissed the case when the department failed to present sufficient evidence.

The day after dismissal, DCS filed a second petition in which it alleged new evidence of neglect against V.B. However, it did not present any evidence at the second fact-finding hearing that was unavailable at the first hearing. The trial court then adjudicated the children as CHINS and the Indiana Court of Appeals ultimately upheld that decision, but not before sharply criticizing DCS’ strategy of “tak(ing) multiple bites at the apple by litigating piecemeal” to prove its facts were sufficient.

On appeal, V.B. contends res judicata required dismissal of the second CHINS petition. The high court will hear the case at 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

Justices will also hear the case of Whitesell Precision Components v. Autoform Tool & Manufacturing,18A-PL-00848, Thursday morning on petition to transfer. In that case, a stipulated preliminary injunction was entered requiring Whitesell to sell automobile parts to Autoform after Whitesell ceased its shipments because Autoform failed to pay an alleged “payment shortfall.”

The court later denied Whitesell’s motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction, finding that if dissolved, Autoform would be at risk of suffering irreparable harm that could not be adequately addressed by money damages. The appellate court affirmed on interlocutory appeal, finding no abuse of discretion.

The case will be heard on petition to transfer 9 a.m. in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom at the Indiana Statehouse.

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