Justices to hear murdered student’s wrongful death, denied TPR cases

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More than 50 cases were denied transfer last week, but Indiana Supreme Court justices agreed to hear arguments in two cases involving a teen’s murder and a reversed denial to terminate a mother’s parental rights.  

The high court first granted transfer in the case of Katrina Murray, et al. v. Arlington Community High School, et al., 19S-CT-282. In that case, then-16-year-old Jaylan Murray’s lifeless body was found at an apartment complex across the street from Arlington Community High School, where he was a student.

Jaylan was murdered on the same day he left school grounds without signing out at the front desk and without Arlington’s knowledge. Arlington was aware that Jaylan was a frequent runaway and had an active Department of Child Services case file.

A wrongful death suit filed by Jaylan’s co-personal representatives against Indianapolis Public Schools was reinstated by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which found genuine issues of material fact as to Arlington’s duty to supervise its students. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Arlington argues, among other things, that the COA was incorrect in finding the public school corporation was not entitled to immunity under the Indiana Tort Claims Act for Jaylan’s wrongful death.

Additionally, the high court agreed to hear argument in the case of Termination: Guardian Ad Litem D.K., et al. v. K.H., et al., 19S-JT-281. The COA reversed in part and remanded a trial court’s denial of a DCS petition to terminate mother K.R.H.’s parental rights to her six children.

The appellate court concluded K.R.H.’s children would be effectively homeless if returned to her care, as she had been unable to secure suitable housing for herself and the children for more than two years. It further found that because K.R.H. did not remedy all the conditions that led to the children’s removal, DCS met its burden under Indiana Code section 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(B).

The justices divided on the denial of transfer to several cases last week, including German A. Linares v. El Tacarajo and U-Pull-And-Pay, LLC d/b/a Pic A Part, 18A-CT-276, in which Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Christopher Goff voted to grant transfer. There, an appellate panel ruled that a salvage yard hosting a taco food truck owed no duty of care to a man who was injured from an explosion stemming from the truck.

Similarly, Rush and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter voted to grant transfer in Clint Fields v. Safway Group Holdings, LLC, 18A-CT-247. There, the COA affirmed a trial court’s vacation of a default judgement in a product liability case brought by Clint Fields, a carpenter who was seriously injured after falling 40 feet from a scaffold built by Safway Group Holdings, LLC. The majority found Safway’s actions were inexcusable, but the situation created as a result was “plausible and understandable.”

Judge Paul Mathias dissented, believing the finding that Safway’s neglect was inexcusable should have rendered relief unavailable.

A full list of cases denied for the week ending May 10 can be viewed here.

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