COA to travel for three arguments next week

Three Appeals on Wheels oral arguments will be heard next week, involving wrongful termination of a hospital employee, suppression of evidence from a pat-down search and a hotel’s appeal of granted possession.

Judges James S. Kirsch, Robert Altice and Elizabeth Tavitas will first hear oral argument in Forrest Perkins v. Memorial Hospital of South Bend,, 18A-CT-01340 at 1 p.m. Monday at Logansport High School’s McHale Performing Arts Center.

Forrest Perkins was terminated from his job at Memorial Hospital of South Bend for allegedly not paying for food from the hospital cafeteria. He filed a complaint against Memorial claiming wrongful termination, specifically, retaliatory discharge. 

Perkins claims that the reason for his termination was pretextual and that his act of testifying at an unemployment hearing given his belief that he was subpoenaed to do so, constituted a protected activity that served as an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. The trial court granted Memorial’s motion for summary judgment on grounds that Perkins was an at-will employee and not entitled to the protections of the recognized exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.

Then on Tuesday, Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, Judge James S. Kirsch and Judge Paul Mathias will hear argument in Sidney A. Berry v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-01769 at 1:15 p.m. at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

After approaching a group of men drinking beer in a high crime area on the southeast side of Fort Wayne, officers approached and noticed Sidney Berry had a large concealed bulge on his waist that officers understood to be a location where firearms are commonly held. Berry informed the officers that he did not have a handgun on his person, and after conducting a pat-down search, his statement proved true. Instead, the bulge was an iPhone in a cellphone case clipped to berry’s belt. However, officers found five grams of marijuana and 10 grams of cocaine in Berry’s pockets and charged him with Level 4 felony possession of cocaine or narcotic drug and a Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Berry moved to suppress the discovered evidence based on Terry v Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), but was denied. He thus filed and was granted an interlocutory appeal asking for review of the trial court’s decision not to suppress the evidence of the drugs obtained from his person.

Lastly, Judges John Baker, Edward Najam and Elizabeth Tavitas will hear Indiana Hotel Equities, LLC v. Indianapolis Airport Authority, 18A-PL-00769 at 5 p.m. at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. In that case, the Indianapolis Airport Authority leased property to Indiana Hotel Equities, LLC, which later filed a complaint against the airport seeking an order enjoining it from evicting IHE. The airport filed a counterclaim against IHE, seeking possession of the hotel at issue.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the airport and ordered IHE to vacate and turn over possession of the hotel. IHE now appeals, arguing that the trial court erred because it did not address the materiality of IHE’s breaches and because materiality is a question of fact that precludes summary judgment.

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